I woke up in a strange Mexican hotel, groggy, clothes strewn about, wondering where the heck I was in the darkness and what I was going to do for food since I only knew a couple of other people in the entire country.
There was no food in my room. Water? Sorry, not drinking it. Even though the hotel my fishing buddy and I were in was assured to be “safe,” well, I wasn’t taking chances. Bottled water for me, please.
We were on the final full day of a week in and north of Mazatlan for bass at Angler’s Inn on El Salto and saltwater species along the Pacific coast. The last day was a saltwater trip where we’d be chasing roosterfish and some others. I was happy since the rooster is one of my must-have species. Alas, the seas were angry that day, my friends, and not only did we return fishless but the competitors in a major marlin tournament out of the same marina were struggling for any bites.
What was most excellent, however, were the handmade tamales that our boat captain’s girlfriend prepared for us that morning. They were not fancy: shredded, slow-cooked beef shrouded in a masa dough and husks, then wrapped again in tinfoil so we could enjoy them on the boat. They stayed warm for hours and were fantastic. So simple, but sometimes the most enjoyable things are, aren’t they?
Breakfast burritos are pretty common now. I’ve enjoyed them all over, although I must admit that one of my favorites has been the ones at the Valero convenience stores in Texas. Down at Falcon Lake a few years ago that was our morning stop and the “taco bar” was outstanding, with pico, onions, salsa, jalapenos and such.
You can make your own breakfast burritos with slow cooked venison, which is easy to do and would be fantastic for deer camp. Especially for the guys who don’t want the shoulders or neck roasts. Seriously, don’t throw those away like so many hunters do. Save the neck and shoulders, follow Scott Leysath’s instructions here on how to prepare them, and then save the pulled meat for breakfast burritos or lunch.
Or, if you have a 16-year old son and hear, “Do we have anything to eat?” quite often, point him to the fridge and suggest a burrito. Or five.
Follow this easy recipe for “The Wrangler” breakfast burrito, found at FoodRepublic.com, but substitute your deer meat for the brisket (which sounds great!) instead. Or, if you prefer, whip up some homemade venison breakfast sausage instead of slow cooked venison. Or do both.
You will need a great cutting board for this to handle the meat and chop up the goodies for it. Be sure to use good tortillas, throw them on your grill or stove or in the oven to warm them up, and let everyone make whatever they want. And although I know tacos and burritos are different beasts, I sometimes forget and just throw those around interchangeably when I really mean burritos — all the tasty bits you love nestled in a warmed tortilla, then rolled-tucked-folded and ready to eat.
Tortillas are great for on-the-stand PB&J snacks, too, but that’s another column for another day.
If you don’t want to follow the recipe linked above, here’s my plan to get out the door in the morning. They’re not haute cusine or fancy-pants food. These can be done the night before and warmed up before you head out. If you’re at the ranch tendin’ doggies and have time then you can make everything hot before the other hunters get back or the kids get out of bed.
Clem’s Hit Th’ Door Breakfast Burritos
Venison sausage, or slow-cooked venison that has been pulled
Potatoes, diced or shredded
Shredded cheese, cheddar
1 onion, sliced into thin strips
1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 bag shredded lettuce
Jalapenos, seeded and sliced into thin strips
Pico de gallo or salsa
Fresh avacado, halved and sliced, or fresh guacamole
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hit The Door Version: Prep the sausage or slow-cooked venison the night before and toss it into the microwave or skillet for a quick warm-up. Ditto on the scrambled eggs and potatoes. I don’t care for refried beans, so I use the fresh guacamole as the binder. Spread some on the tortilla, then add the venison, eggs and whatever else is available. I like everything. If you want the onions and peppers sauteed, well, then you’ll have to get up earlier or do them the night before, too. I don’t mind if the onions and peppers are raw. Roll up the tortilla and maybe hit it again in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Wrap in tinfoil and hit the road.
Camp ‘n Coffee Version: This is for when you have time and can make everything hot on the spot. The slow-cooked pulled venison can be reheated, of course, after you make it with your smoker or in the oven (see Leysath’s highlighted recipe link above). If you’re using venison sausage that you ground and made yourself, heat it up in the skillet. I prefer link or patty sausage; the links fit the burrito and the patty can be formed or cut to fit. If you have a big group, lay out a spread of the onions, shredded lettuce, bell peppers, maybe some jalapenos, chopped cilantro, cheese, pico, guac and salsa. Fresher is better. To save time, buy pre-chopped onions, peppers and such at the grocery store. (Make this fresh, easy guacamole and you won’t buy store-bought again.)
For the hearty combo all-in-one deal, saute the peppers and onions and then add the potatoes. Mix the shredded cheese with the eggs in a bowl, stir around, and then put into a hot skillet (medium-high heat) with two pats of butter to scramble. About halfway through add the pepper-onion-tater mix. Stir, remove when the eggs are done and then let everyone combine the sausage, egg-cheese-tater/pepper combo and whatever other fresh fixings. Serve with warm tortillas. Or you can prepare and keep everything separate, in case someone doesn’t want something. Time is your friend so make the most of it. A hearty breakfast (or brunch) burrito is a good way to enjoy the morning.
Burritos (and tacos!) are just incredibly easy and versatile. This sounds like a lot of work but it’s really not. And everyone from Paw-Paw to Lil’ Jimmy can make what they want and eat it at the table, on the porch, in the tire swing or sitting in a box blind waiting on a big buck or doe. Remember, too, these are a great way to use all of your venison so don’t toss the neck and shoulders. Save them, clean them well, give them that slow-cooked love and then enjoy.
— Alan Clemons, Managing Editor
MAKE YOUR VENISON BETTER AND JUST HOW YOU WANT IT! See This Now!