Venison chunks are given the braising treatment for several hours to intensify flavor, then pan seared until the edges are crisp.
For me, one of the most exciting parts of hunting is getting to break the animal down myself, and even moreso, challenging myself to see what I can do with the meat that is harvested. It’s not merely about processing the deer, but HOW to process that meat differently. I enjoy cutting out steaks that are usually turned into ground venison, or saving as much stew meat as I can. And it’s the stew meat that gave me the idea for this recipe. If you’re interested, you can check out my more unusual venison recipes here.
Let’s take a moment for some recipe overview real talk. Yes, these carnitas are on the dry side. They do not have as much fat as their porky counterparts and so naturally will not have the same mouthfeel. HOWEVER! I have had plenty of dry beef, chicken and pork tacos in my time. The trick to truly enjoying these carnitas is piling them on a taco and drizzling them with a salsa of some description. That way, the sauce brings the necessary moisture while the meat still has amazing flavor and texture.
In terms of execution, it’s important to hold off seasoning your venison until after the braising is done. The beef stock bath is quite salty, and will intensify as the braise goes on. Once you’ve gotten the venny (yeah, I like to call it that) tender and drained off the braising liquid, that’s the time to add any extra salt, if at all necessary.
Tender & Crispy Venison Carnitas
2 lb trimmed venison stew meat (or roasts cut into pieces)
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 navel oranges, zest & juice only
4 cups beef stock
3 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt to taste
- In a large heavy based pot (I use enamelled cast iron), place the meat, broth, onion, garlic, orange zest and juice and 2 cups of the water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook for 4-5 hours until the meat is fall-apart tender. You can also do this step in a slow cooker or Instapot.
- Drain the liquid and use a fork or gloved hands to shred the meat, leaving some larger chunks. Season meat with extra salt if needed.
- Place oil into a skillet over medium-high heat. Leave to heat until oil shimmers and is hot. Place the meat into the skillet and spread out over a single layer so as much of the base of the pan is covered as possible. Leave the meat in place, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes so the bottom pieces can develop a browned crust. Be sure to keep an eye to ensure they are not burning.
- Toss the meat to distribute the crispy bits, then serve immediately.