Because winter never seems to end where we live, and spring doesn’t really start until June, we can extend our “hot dish” season much longer than the rest of the country. We love savory and simple hot dishes, and here are some that will work well with your venison cache. These recipes do not require a lot of work and can be put together easily without a lot of clean-up. An added bonus is that hot dishes, including these three, make for a great second meal.
French onion soup is a holiday favorite of ours – especially with the gooey gobs of melted Swiss cheese au gratin on top. My daughter gave me this idea and with a few changes, it made for a wonderful hot dish with everyone going for seconds. Many of the recipes for this type of hot dish go light on the cheese, but since it is such a big part of French onion soup, we could not leave it out. This recipe gets rave reviews.
Another very easy and hearty recipe is an Italian pasta bake. The more garlic and seasoning, the better – but start with a reasonable amount and continue to add as desired in the future. A can of pizza sauce adds a more robust flavor to the spaghetti sauce base.
The last recipe is a Mexican casserole that can be made in advance and then taken up a notch with “customized” fresh toppings. The basic recipe is mild, so if you like it fiery just add more seasoning, or peppers, salsa, or whatever you prefer.
FRENCH ONION VENISON HOT DISH
This recipe has a million variations depending on region, ingredient availability, and taste. Renamed from “Cowboy Caviar” to “Camp Caviar,” this is highly recommended as a tasty appetizer which is also good for you!
• 1½ pounds venison/beef – ground or stew meat
• 3 cups beef broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch-oven sized pan over medium high heat. Add the venison and cook until done. Add soup mix, salt and pepper, can of French onion soup, and 3 cups of beef broth to mixture and simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Add egg noodles to mixture and simmer for an additional ten minutes or until noodles are tender.
Pour into 9″x13″ baking pan and top with shredded Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Serve with French fried onions sprinkled on top.
ITALIAN PASTA BAKE
• 1½ pounds ground venison
• 1 large can of spaghetti sauce (24-ounce)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. In large skillet, cook ground venison, garlic, and onion until done; drain off any excess fat if an issue (usually not with venison). Add spaghetti and pizza sauces along with mushrooms. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add ½ cup of mozzarella cheese to mixture and transfer to 8- to 9-inch square baking pan. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes, or until cheese begins to lightly brown.
This recipe is for an 8″x8″ pan; double the ingredients for a 9″x13″ pan.
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 16-ounce can of refried beans
• Remaining ½ cup shredded cheese
• Chopped onion
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, cook ground venison and onions. Drain off excess fat and add taco seasoning mix along with the recommended amount of water (usually – cup). Prepare Spanish rice according to package directions. Brush baking pan with part of the olive oil. Line with soft flour tortillas, which can be trimmed and overlapped to cover bottom of pan. Brush with remaining olive oil. Top with refried beans. Spread taco meat mixture on top of beans. Top with Spanish rice and 1– cups of the shredded cheese. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until cheese begins to lightly brown.
Cut into sections and serve with remaining shredded cheese and other toppings suggested above to make the dish like a robust plate of nachos!
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