Venison Machaca One of the Best Dishes Ever?

Tacos Carnitas can be made with shredded beef, like these, or venison if you have some deer meat in the freezer. They're great! (Photo: Jess Lander/Wikipedia)

Tacos Carnitas can be made with shredded beef, like these, or venison if you have some deer meat in the freezer. They’re great! (Photo: Jess Lander/Wikipedia)

Earlier this year my wife and I were in Nashville on the final day of the CMA Music Festival, taking in the sights along Broadway Street, the main drag through the city, and enjoying the day.

We I turned up 2nd Avenue and found Nashville Street Tacos, which opened earlier this year. It’s a tacos ‘n music joint with downstairs eating and upstairs music. Pretty cool place. On the menu I spied machaca, which I immediately ordered on three small “street tacos” with pico, cilantro, cheese and topped with some spicy sauce.

Dagnabbit, I could have chowed down on about 10 of those. They were great. And it reminded me of just how good venison machaca tacos can be with a slow cooking method on your shoulders, necks or even a hindquarter roast.

SEE: The Best Thing You Can Have to Make Fantastic Venison Jerky … 

Machaca in its original form is beef or pork cooked slowly with onions, peppers and seasoning. Then it’s dried for easier storage and transport, and rehydrated and pounded lightly to make it more tender before serving. Hybrid versions on the Tex-Mex foodie scene don’t dry it, which makes it simply a shredded, tender filling for tacos, burritos or whatever dish you want to make. Some folks even combine it with eggs for Machaca con Huevos, which sounds like a super breakfast or brunch at deer camp.

Venison is easy to prepare this way. Too many hunters discard the front shoulders and neck, both of which have good meat worth savoring, because they don’t want to fool with them. That’s a shame, though, because it’s easy to use them. The slow cooking process breaks down the connective tissue and adds flavor, and then bones can be easily removed before you shred the meat for meals.

Scott Leysath, one of our favorite wild game chefs, has some great suggestions for using both shoulders and necks. Don’t discard them. Instead, give them a good dry rub, toss in the slow cooker or smoker for several hours, and then enjoy.

Make the Best Smoked Venison Ever and It’s So Easy With This … 

We ran across this super recipe for Shredded Venison Sandwiches from Ruth Setterlund of Freyburg, Maine, on the website. Dang, these sound great! And there are other venison recipes on, too, so poke around there a bit.

Shredded Venison Sandwiches

  • 1 boneless venison roast (4 pounds)
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke, optional
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 14 to 18 hamburger buns, split


  • Cut venison roast in half; place in a 5-quart slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce, liquid smoke if desired and seasonings. Pour over venison. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender.
  • Remove roast; cool slightly. Shred meat with two forks; return to slow cooker and heat through. Using a slotted spoon, place meat mixture on bun bottoms. Replace tops.
    Yields 14-18 servings; preparation 15 minutes; cooking time 8 hours.