Venison Birria Tacos: Jack Hennessy’s ‘Braising the Wild’

Jack Hennessy brings Venison Birria Tacos to “Braising the Wild”

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Jack Hennessy brings Venison Birria Tacos to “Braising the Wild.”

Jack Hennessy

Here’s a taco I have not seen in any commercial establishment and a mighty fine use for venison from Jack Hennessy this week in “Braising the Wild.”

Here is the recipe:

VENISON BIRRIA TACOS Several weeks ago I saw a YouTube video for a food truck in Portland, Oregon, that makes birria tacos. They use beef, but once I saw the video, I knew I had to try this with venison. This recipe, as well, is a fantastic option for any freezer-burn meat that might need using before replenishing with this year’s take. Makes four servings. 22 ounces venison stew meat 24 6-inch white corn tortillas 16 ounces Mexican cheese blend Birria: 64 ounces chicken stock (two 32-ounce boxes) 10 dried chile guajillo or California 3 dried chile ancho 4 large garlic cloves 2 teaspoons fresh oregano 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 2 whole cloves 1/4 whole cinnamon stick 2 bay leaves 2 cups apple cider 1 medium yellow onion Sunflower oil, mixed use Kosher salt and ground black pepper, mixed use White sugar, mixed use Toppings: Thinly sliced radishes Freshly minced cilantro Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and roast dried chile peppers for 3-5 minutes to toast and bring out aroma. Rehydrate in a pot of warm water on stove, heated on low, for approximately 5 minutes, or until pliable. Remove pulp and seeds in water then place in food processor. Save water. Add two cups (16 ounces) of chicken stock plus 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, and 2 whole cloves to food processor. Blend thoroughly then pour into a 6-quart slow cooker or Crock Pot. Add remaining 48 ounces of chicken stock plus 2 cups of chile water (without seeds and pulp) and 2 cups apple cider to slow cooker. Also add 1/4 whole cinnamon stick and two bay leaves. Set to high. Dice onion and add to a skillet with a thin layer of oil heated on medium. Lightly salt and pepper and sauté until brown. Add garlic cloves and continue to stir until garlic browns then add all ingredients to food processor, blend thoroughly and add to slow cooker. Stir all ingredients together. Cut all silver skin and fat off venison then cut into approximate 1-inch-by-1-inch chunks and place in same skillet (add more oil if necessary) on medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper and turn until all sides are seared. Add to slow cooker. Cook for 4 hours on high then check venison chunks. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves, if possible, at this time. If chunks will shred easily with two forks, they are done and ready to be shredded. If not tender yet, set slow cooker to low and check every hour until tender. Venison should basically shred by hand. Shred venison chunks then strain birria stew through sieve to remove dried chile chunks. Add shredded venison back to stew and continue to cook on low for 1 hour. If stew tastes bland, add 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt until no longer bland. If you desire extra sweetness, you may add sugar until desired sweetness is reached. (Make sure you thoroughly stir in salt and sugar before taste testing.) To make tacos, cook each corn tortilla for a couple minutes in thin layer of oil in a skille tor Flat Top heated to 375 degrees, but make sure tortillas are still soft. Use two tortillas per taco and stuff inside with cheese and shredded venison. Sear both sides of taco in a skillet or on a Flat Top until brown and crispy. I like the stovetop version I have from Steelmade USA as it makes many tacos a cinch. Ladle out birria stew into a bowl and top with freshly minced cilantro and finely sliced radishes for dipping tacos.

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