Fall comfort cooking: Easy Venison “Taco Bake”

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Venison Taco Bake

Venison Taco Bake

Some days my loftier cooking aspirations go right out the window and I just want to make something quick, convenient, and satisfying. Tacos are always good for that—and yes, sometimes I just use those taco kits from the supermarket for the shells and spice mix. It’s not gourmet but with enough fresh veggies and salsas at the same time, it’s always a favorite in the house.

But tacos don’t work when I need to make something that’ll stay tasty and warm on nights when my sweetie won’t get home until 9 or 10pm, and I don’t want to wait that late for dinner myself! That’s when I usually make a stew or casserole dish, and how I decided to make up a quick taco casserole using from ground venison meat I wanted to cook up.

Venison is a great choice in a casserole like this, when you don’t want it to be as heavy and greasy as a ground pork or beef dish can be. Also, the taco spice mix does a great job of hiding any “gamey” taste that might turn off those not used to venison.

Venison taco bake step 1

I started by browning the meat in a little bit of olive oil. There was no grease to pour off once browned—you can see how lean the venison is. So I directly added in a package of taco seasoning and water as directed. Got it well combined, then transferred it all to a baking dish.

Venison taco bake step 2

I wiped clean the saute pan, heated up some fresh oil, and sauteed a mixture of chopped fresh yellow onions (about 1/2 large one) and peppers (one green, one yellow, one long hot). Once they were softened up, I mixed them in with the ground venison in the casserole dish. I then topped the mixture with some chopped fresh tomato (one very large late season Jersey in this case.)

Venison taco bake step 3

Next up, a layer of shredded cheese (about 1 cup), some kalamata olives scattered about, and the broken up pieces of four taco shells from a taco kit. As you can see, it sort of ended up being an “upside-down” taco: shells, cheese, tomatoes, ground meat. All of this went into the oven at 375°F for about 20 minutes, until the cheese was melted and the taco shells crisped up nicely.

Venison taco bake step 4

All done! For serving I topped my bowl with some fresh shredded lettuce. You could easily add whatever other taco toppings or seasonings you like: a little sour cream, salsa, guacamole, hot sauce, etc. Like I said, I was in the mood for something quick and easy, so I stuck to the basics. My sweetie enjoyed it a lot when he got home as well.

Elegant dining? Not by a long shot. But tasty and easy, and a fun twist on “taco night”? Most definitely!

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