Field to Table: Venison Chorizo Tacos with Mango Salsa
One of my favorite aspects of hunting and fishing is trying different recipes with wild fish and game... and sharing them with my family and friends. A dish that's become a classic in our house is chorizo tacos.
For me, hunting and fishing is an opportunity to be directly involved in the experience of procuring food. I enjoy every part of the process, from the scouting and practicing with my bow, to long, quiet sits in the stand — to butchering at home when there is some success. When you are involved with every step, you not only maintain the highest level of quality, reverence, and care for the harvest, but you also get to decide the exact cuts and which sausage spice blends you'd like to use.
I like to take a portion of my ground venison and make a batch of fresh Mexican-style chorizo to freeze for tacos and soups.
Mexican-style chorizo is a fresh variation on the Iberian cured sausage and there are some great recipes out there to help you prepare some really flavorful, fresh chorizo. Last year, I discovered The Spice House, and their Mexican Chorizo Seasoning is excellent.
I like to cut a little pork shoulder with the fat cap into the grind for flavor and juiciness. Next, you add the chorizo seasoning and red wine vinegar and let it rest in the fridge overnight. I always like to cook a little bit while it's fresh for a treat, and then pack up the rest in 1 1/4 pound packages for the freezer.
Now, for the tacos...
Browning the chorizo with hot temps and less meat ensures a better crisp.
There is a secret to browning the meat: I use really high heat and leave it alone. You also don’t want to cook it all at once. This allows the pan to stay hot and gives you a better crisp. I take sections of the thawed meat out of the package and just lay it on the hot pan, let it brown - flip it - brown the other side, and then break it up in a bowl while I brown the rest. It’s fine if the inside is still rare at this point.
Sauté onions afterward to lift any crispy bits off the pan for more flavor.Next, I like to take a finely chopped white onion and sauté it in the pan to lift any of the crispy bits for more flavor. Once the onion is translucent, I add all of the broken-up, browned chorizo and add some stock for a quick low-heat simmer while I make the salsa. I like to use venison stock, but the chorizo stockpile usually outlasts the stock reserves so a good chicken or beef stock will do. This is a great time to add a bit more chorizo seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.
Prepping the Salsa
If you are a traditionalist, a fresh pico de Gallo is all you need. But mango salsa goes really well with the smoky, peppery taste of the chorizo. You can create any variation you’d like, as long as you stick to a good foundation of ripe mangoes, plenty of cilantro, salt, some fresh lime juice, and a finely chopped red onion. This time, I added some fresh corn, peaches, tomatoes, and habanero peppers — the sweet heat was perfect.
Customize your salsa with your favorite ingredients and level of heat.
Pro Tip: I like to use corn tortillas and heat them up individually in a pan with a little vegetable oil. This makes for a nicely textured tortilla that doesn’t taste dry or fall apart. Making them yourself is optimal, but these tortillas from La Tortilla Factory save a lot of time and are amazing for a store-bought option.
Assemble your taco the way you like. Add some crumbled cotija cheese or shredded sharp cheddar, pickled red onion, or even a little hot sauce. For these, I sprinkled some of the finely chopped habanero peppers for a little extra heat.
After a long day in the woods, it doesn't get much better than kicking back in a Field Collection Stargaze™ chair to enjoy a couple of these tacos with a cold beverage and your favorite people!
As NEMO's Creative Content Director, Randy Gaetano is a passionate outdoorsman and advocate for conservation. He can usually be found either sitting quietly in a treestand — waiting for a deer ... or sitting quietly on a longboard — waiting for a wave.