Guest Jon Akers, Medieval Faire Chef Extraordinaire

I have been reading Chicklets in the Kitchen for quite some time, ever since Abigail advertised the blog in a different venue, and I have posted a number of comments from time to time, even winning a cookbook. This past weekend, I was convinced to write a guest article on one of the dishes that I make, and in this case it happens to be venison curry.

There is a bit of history with this recipe, which is not my own. I originally got this recipe a couple of years ago from an on-line friend who posted it to what can only be described as a “gun-nut” blog, called “Zombie Squad.” While I am not a gun nut, I did find this post to be quite useful, and I now base all of my curry explorations on it.

You might be asking, “Jon… where are you getting venison? You’re not a gun nut, so you probably aren’t a hunter either, and you can’t buy venison easily.” Well, that has a story to it as well. A number of years ago, a friend of my mother’s gave her some venison as a gift. My mother graciously accepted it, despite not really wanting to eat any of it. She eats one hamburger a year, and the rest of her meat protein comes from fish and fowl… no red meat. Instead, she handed off this meat to me. It was coming close to the  faire, and I decided that instead of consuming it all for myself, I would instead share it out with my friends at the faire. What better place to consume venison than at a medieval faire, right? This is what I did, and afterwards I told my mother what I had done, that I had taken the meat and shared it out to others as a gift at a faire, giving them a culinary experience that is not easy to come by. My mother then related this to her friend, who loved it so much that she now gives my mother all kinds of interesting bits of protein for me to share out the same way.

I cook for one of the acting groups that participates in the faire, and I know a number of folks that also work the faire, including Chicklet’s own Abigail Sharpe and Lis’Anne Harris. I do this pretty much every year now, since I have access to some interesting cuts of meat. I made the curry at the faire on a single gas-powered burner, and it was loved by all those that I was able to convince to try it. I also sent a decent sized bowl over to the SCA booth for them to sample, and the reviews came back raving. You know you have done well with a dish when you hand over a bowl to someone, they take a bite, and their eyes fly open in amazement and they start babbling on about why their folks can’t make food like this.

Venison Curry

Ingredients:
1lb – Ground venison (or chopped steaks)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
3 Tbl curry powder
2 Tbl cumin
Salt
5 Tbl olive oil
¼ cup cream
Golden raisins

Directions:

  • Sauté the onions and garlic with the olive oil in a large skillet until translucent. When I do it, I start the onions first, and once they are about half done, I add in the garlic. The onions tend to take longer to cook through, and you don’t want to burn your garlic.
  • Add in the cumin powder, stirring constantly… be careful not to burn the cumin.
  • Place into a decent sized pot that will hold everything the canned tomatoes (both the sauce and diced tomatoes).
  • Add the onions and garlic to the pot, then get ready to brown off the meat.
  • Add your ground or chopped meat to the skillet now and start to brown it off. Adding a bit of salt to the meat will help with flavor.

– Once the meat is down browning, add it to the pot and stir it in. At this point you can put the pot on the same burner that your skillet was on at low heat and bring it to a simmer.

  • Add curry powder and raisins, then mix well. The curry powder will thicken the sauce, and the raisins will soak up all that wonderful curry flavor.
  • Allow to simmer for… a while. There is no real time measurement for this, but the longer you let it go, the thicker it will get.
  • A couple minutes before serving, add in the cream and mix well, then allow to heat back up to a simmer. This tends to bring spiciness down a bit. When I ate it this past weekend, there was a good strong kick on the palate at first, but no burning afterwards… you knew you had eaten something spicy, but that was all.

Serve over rice.

(I was not able to serve this over rice at the fair, but people enjoyed it all the same.)

A couple of notes:

  • The raisins will continue to soak in moisture and juices. If you store this in the fridge for 24 hours. they will swell back up to the size of grapes, but they will be curried grapes… delicious!
  • As this rests over time, it will tend to get spicier and have more of a kick.
  • If you want to kick up the spiciness, try adding in some sambal oelek.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Jon!  Now for the questions. 😉

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10 thoughts on “Guest Jon Akers, Medieval Faire Chef Extraordinaire

  1. Thanks for sharing, Jon! I’m sure my SIL will love it. Her husband is an avid hunter and they often have venison stored away in the freezer. (I’m a veg so I still prefer to think of venison as Bambi.) 😉

    • I said this in another comment, but meat is really optional… it can always be substituted with something else… mushrooms might be VERY interesting (I would have to think on the taste combination of that), but potatoes and cauliflower are very common. Tofu would also work pretty well. When it comes to vegetables, you want something that won’t necessarily break apart fast (don’t overcook those potatoes!) but will also soak up the flavors of the food surrounding it (green beans would be weird, for instance).

      While cauliflower (or broccoli) doesn’t really soak the flavors inside, it has all those little crevices where the flavors can sort of hang out, which is just nice.

    • Reduce the amount of curry powder, I would say. If it seems a bit runny, you can thicken it with some corn starch or a slurry of regular flower (AP, self-rising, whatever…)

    • It is basically a chili sauce made only from chilies, so that the heat of the dish is raised without altering the flavour very much.

      There are some chilies out there made from things like Scotch Bonnets and stuff, and while that will bring on the heat, they also change the flavour dramatically. Imagine, if you will, adding something like Tabasco sauce to something… you have to be very careful with Tabasco, because one drop too much and the entire dish will taste only of Tabasco…

      Sambal on the other hand is simply ground chilies. Delicious stuff… you can find it in pretty much any asian supply store, and probably in a good regular supermarket that has a decent imports aisle.

      • Okay. My sons love heat and are fond of competing with each other to see who can stand it (whatever “it” may be) the hottest. I’m sure they’ll want to know about this stuff. 😉

        I have a confession to make. I’ve never had curried anything. I think I’ve been afraid of the spiciness. So, I bought some a while back, but haven’t use it yet. This recipe will be my first foray into the world of curry. However, I’ll have to use beef since I have no venison.

      • Yeah, obviously the venison is going to be a tough one to get your hands on…

        Realistically, you can use any sort of ground meat… beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb… the possibilities are endless. If you want to go vegetarian, omit the meat and find something else to fill in… tofu would work, but other vegetables would also be nice… chunks of cauliflower, potatoes (heavily used in England in curries!), etc.

        Also, if you want to sweeten it more, instead of cream, try using coconut milk.

  2. Pingback: Curried Empanadas | Chicklets in the Kitchen

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