With the Fourth of July holiday falling on a Friday this year, that means a long weekend and, most likely, more food consumed than normal with folks bugging out a day earlier to take advantage of the break.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, there is such an organization) estimates that more than 150 million hot dogs will be eaten during the holiday. About 7 billion are eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Seven billion! And that’s probably not including the untold number of venison sausages that are made each year by smaller processors, smokehouses and individuals.
We’ll enjoy the usual holiday fare to celebrate America this weekend: potato salad, baked beans, burgers, hot dogs, brats, tater chips, fruit, pickles, cole slaw, pasta salads (be careful to refrigerate these), ice cream and other tasty deserts. Toss in pulled pork or venison, smoked wings, beef and pork ribs, too. Yum!
One great thing to have around to nosh on is chips and salsa, a spread of fruit like grapes, fresh peaches, strawberries and apples, and water. Provide good stuff to munch on and folks will take advantage of it. Sodas and beer are cool, if that’s your deal, but with the heat of summer it’s a good idea to stay hydrated with water. Fruit helps, too, and the chips and salsa, well, those are just tasty.
Here’s a great salsa recipe from Weston Products that uses smoked peaches. Sounds great!
Even if you have had peach salsa before… never have you had peach salsa like this! Fresh peaches smoked in a Weston Propane Smoker and blended with fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions make for a perfect balance of smoky, savory, and sweet.
Makes about one quart
6 small peaches, halved & pitted
3 vine-ripe tomatoes, quartered
one half green pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
5 garlic cloves, smashed
juice from ½ lime
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon chipotle powder (one tablespoon to make it spicy)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Weston Manual Kitchen Kit
Roma by Weston Tomato Strainer w/ Salsa Screen
Smoke the peach halves in a Weston Smoker at 200 degrees F for two hours. Once smoked, use a Weston Kitchen Kit with the chopper to puree the peaches. Set aside and allow to cool. Place the tomatoes, pepper, onion, and garlic into your Tomato Strainer with the Salsa Screen attached, and turn the handle to process and mix into salsa. In a large bowl, with a wooden spoon, mix together the peaches and salsa. Use the Weston Kitchen Kit to chop the cilanto and juice the lime. Stir the cilantro, sugar, chipotle powder, ginger, and lime juice into the salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.
That salsa sounds great! Cole slaw is another super dish for any grilling gathering, and this one from Weston sounds pretty darn good, too. Be sure to refrigerate appropriately with any pasta or slaw dishes that are made with mayo, eggs or dressings that could spoil sitting at room temperature for too long.
Red, White & Bleu Coleslaw
6 cups (about 1/2 head) red cabbage
2 cups white cabbage
1/2 large red onion
1/2 white radish
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic
8 ounces red wine vinegar
1 cup light bleu cheese
1 tablespoon freshly ground black peppercorns
Shred the red cabbage, onion and radish with the Weston Cabbage Shredder and Slaw Board. In a medium saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Pour the red cabbage, onion, radish, garlic, oil, and vinegar into a Weston Vacuum Sealer Bag or Weston Vacuum Canister (we like the vac bag rolls because we cut them to any size we want, but our gallon sized bags and 15-inch x 18-inch bags are just as high quality and will also hold this recipe).
Before sealing, fold a paper towel so that it looks like a ruler and insert it into the bag so that it acts as a stopper for the oil. Seal the bag with your Weston Vacuum Sealer, and refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour for best results.
Shred the remaining cabbage with the Weston Cabbage Shredder and Slaw Board and toss with the vacuum-marinated red cabbage mixture and bleu cheese dressing, then sprinkle with pepper. This pungent coleslaw goes great on burgers!
One of the best things about venison jerky is it doesn’t take too much maintenance during the drying process. Even the preparation isn’t difficult: slice your venison thinly, use whatever marinade or dry rub you want for flavor, and then pop it in the dehydrator, oven or whatever you use. If you’re using a jerky gun there’s not much more prep time involved other than grinding and mixing the venison. But even then, it’s pretty simple.
Here’s an easy jerky recipe that uses some simple spices probably found in your pantry or spice rack. If you want to check out some other flavors, take a gander at these from Hi-Mountain, too.
Makes about fifty 6-inch strips
3 lbs venison, trimmed of fat and sinew and cubed
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons hot chili powder
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Weston Meat Grinder
Weston Meat Lug (or Meat Mixer if you’re making a 10 lb+ batch)
Weston Vacuum Sealer + Bag
Weston Jerky Gun
Use a Meat Grinder to grind the cubed venison through a medium plate. Place the meat into a Meat Lug and spread it out into an even layer across the bottom of the lug. Mix the seasonings together and reserve two tablespoons of the seasoning mixture for later (you will use these two tablespoons to sprinkle over the jerky just before dehydrating). Combine the rest of the seasonings with water and mix again. Pour the seasoning mixture evenly over the ground venison. Use your hands to fully mix the seasonings into the meat.
Place the seasoned meat into a Vacuum Bag (an 8 x 12 bag should fit the 3-pound mixture). Use your Vacuum Sealer to seal the bag, then place it in the refrigerator overnight to marinate.
Preheat the Dehydrator to 155.
Transfer the ground meat into your Jerky Gun Tube and pack it down very tightly – no air pockets. Use the Jerky Gun to extrude the ground venison onto Dehydrator trays (we used the double jerky strip nozzle). Sprinkle the strips with your reserved two tablespoons of seasonings.
Slide the Dehydrator trays back into the preheated dehydrator and let the jerky dehydrate 8 hours. Check it every so often — it is ready when it is completely dry throughout, but flexible, not brittle. If it is ready, you can use scissors to cut the 12″ strips in half.
Once it is ready, let it rest for an hour or two then store it in a paper bag or sealed vacuum sealer bag. If you use a vacuum sealer bag, you will want to be very careful to ensure the jerky is completely dry and cooled so that it doesn’t sweat and later mold in the bag.
Properly dehydrated jerky will last about six months in the vacuum sealed bag and three months in a paper bag. You can further extend its shelf life in the vacuum sealer bag to about a year if you place it in the refrigerator.
If you’re hankering for a venison burger for the grill, be sure to throw on some extras and enjoy this tasty sauce as a topping:
1/2 stick butter or substitute
Salt and pepper to taste
Make a sauce that is deep enough to cover 3/4 of each steak slice by first melting the butter. Then pour in Worchester sauce until butter turns color of milk chocolate. Add to the sauce diced onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook. Place sauce over top of grilled venison burgers.
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