A quick look at the calendar tells us Memorial Day is right around the corner. This traditional kickoff to summer looks to be a bit muted this year, with gathering restrictions still the norm in most parts of the country.
The remembrance ceremonies at the heart of this day are either being cancelled or held virtually, which makes these important events even more somber.
The time-honored festivities that follow are also likely going to be much lower key, if they can be held at all.
That said, remember this is Badlands. We don’t fixate on the downers. We figure out ways to have fun and celebrate the positives no matter what.
Sure, your annual block barbecue may be cancelled this year. Let’s not let the amount of people we celebrate with, affect the quality of fun. Even if it’s just you, the spouse and kids, there’s no reason not to rock out.
In fact, we make the case that fewer mouths to feed is a great reason to bust out the good stuff. No, the really good stuff.
When you’re feeding the whole ‘hood, some bulk 80/20 beef from the warehouse store is the only economically viable plan—we get it. But if the crowd is 10 or fewer, why not bust out some of that delicious venison, elk or wild turkey currently tucked away in the freezer hidden in the basement?
Here are a few recipes to get you started.
- 1 pound venison steaks, cubed
- ½ teaspoon Greek seasoning, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon steak seasoning, or to taste
- 16 ounces Italian salad dressing
- ½ cup jalapeno pepper slices
- 10 slices bacon, cut in half
- toothpicks, soaked in water
We all love pheasant poppers, right? Same idea, different protein. First, completely cover the cubed venison steak in the Greek and steak seasonings. Place into a sealable plastic container and cover with the Italian salad dressing. Stick it in the refrigerator (or a Yeti, if you’re cool like that) and let marinate for at least two hours.
Heat up that grill to a medium heat. Medium heat? Just hold your hand about five inches above the grate. If you can leave it there only three or four seconds, you’re good to go.
Next, remove the venison from the marinade and discard the liquid (No, you can’t drink it). Place a jalapeno slice on each cube, wrap it with the bacon slice, and secure it all with the water-soaked toothpick.
Grill 15-20 minutes, turning to make sure the bacon gets nice and crispy all the way around.
1½ pound elk, cut into 2-inch strips
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch wedges
12 fajita-size flour tortillas, warmed
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Who doesn’t love a platter of sizzling fajitas? OK, you can leave now. Just go. We don’t need that negativity around here. The rest of you, we cool.
To start, mix up the fajita seasoning by whisking together the spices and salt. Sprinkle two teaspoons over the elk, mix it around well and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Set remaining seasoning aside.
Heat up your favorite cast iron, size: big ‘ol. Add two tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Cook the onions and bell peppers until they start to soften (or… we prefer a little caramelization and just a hint of blackened edges, your call). Remove the veggies, add the rest of the oil and throw the meat into the pan. Cook until browned. Now add the pepper/onion combo and the rest of the fajita seasoning back into the pan. Toss and cook until your taste buds simply can’t wait.
Bring the sizzling skillet right to the table and serve with the warmed tortillas and your choice of toppings. We vote for shredded cheese, guac, sour cream and a badass green chile salsa.
Hot and Spicy Turkey Legs
- 4 turkey drumsticks (1½ to 2 pounds each)
- 2/3 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional
While these turkey popsicles are famed as carnival fare, there’s no reason you can’t stretch out on the patio, cold beer in one hand and a massive turkey club in the other. You can bake ‘em or smoke ‘em, but we like to take everything to level 11 with a little zing.
Put two drumsticks into a big honking zipper bag (do this twice). Now whisk together everything else. Pour ¾ a cup of the marinade into one bag, and ¾ of a cup into the other. Why? Because only you can bring balance to the Force. Stash these away in the fridge for at least 8 hours (overnight would be best). Be sure to refrigerate the rest of the marinade, you’ll need it.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Move the legs from the marinade to a foil-lined baking pan. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 45 minutes. Afterwards, remove the foil and bake for another 45-60 minutes, or until a thermometer says 175 degrees. Remember that leftover marinade? Be sure to baste the legs periodically throughout the second half of the bake.
Now, grab a leg, crack a can open, sit upon your lawn chair throne and survey your freshly mowed kingdom. You’ve earned it!