Avid hunters are always looking for new ways to use their favorite game meats. This taco-inspired twist on an old classic brings ground venison into a new world of flavors. No Midwest whitetail recipe would be complete without plenty of cheese, so this one tips the hat to our beloved dairy farmers as well.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes Cook Time: 30-40 minutes Serves: Four, but can easily be increased or decreased
1 pound ground venison
4 bell peppers of any color
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 diced tomato, or a can of diced tomatoes
8 ounces Salsa
2 cups finely shredded cheese (use your favorite)
1.5 cups of prepared rice (can use Spanish rice for additional zip)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the peppers and slice them lengthwise, removing the stems and seeds. If you prefer, you can cut out the top and scoop out the internals, but we find the recipe makes a nicer presentation and is more easily devoured when sliced. Rub with a light layer of cooking oil and roast, cut side down, in a 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the peppers. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the inside of the peppers lightly with salt and pepper.
While the peppers are quick roasting, prepare the other ingredients. Mix the dry spices and set aside. Mince the onion and garlic. Heat a large pan – we prefer cast iron – with a bit of oil to lightly brown the ground venison. Once browned, remove the meat from the pan and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until translucent.
If the pan is large enough, you can add all the ingredients together there. Otherwise, use a larger mixing bowl to mix the sautéed onions and garlic with the browned meat, prepared rice, dry spices, seasoning mix, salsa, and diced tomatoes. The mixture should be nice and moist, but not runny.
Stuff the pre-roasted peppers with this taco-inspired mixture. Because we love cheese, we add a sprinkling of cheese to the peppers before filling them with the meat. Some prefer to throw a bit in with the meat. Pack the peppers nicely with the meat blend and then top the stuffed peppers with a healthy dose of shredded cheese. We used shredded sharp cheddar because we like the flavor, but it doesn’t melt as well as other choices. Use what you like best.
Roast the peppers in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. The peppers should be softened, the filling hot, and the cheese melted. If needed, put them under the broiler for a few moments to reach the perfect bubbling top.
Though stuffed peppers are essentially a complete meal, we often serve them along with a side salad and some sort of fresh bread or cornbread. Since not everyone loves green peppers, feel free to substitute red or orange peppers, which are often sweeter and more mellow. If you’re heading to deer camp, the stuffed peppers can be prepared and filled ahead of time and then baked for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees before serving.