Here’s a hunt camp meal your group won’t soon forget. And that’s largely because of what makes this Louisiana single pot meal so special. A campfire and a good cast iron pan. Some ground venison and gamebird livers. Add the Holy Trinity of Cajun vegetables and some cornbread, and you’ll soon be partaking in a single-pot feast. Let’s get to it.
1-2 lbs. ground venison
1 cup bird livers. Pheasant works amazing here (duck, goose, or even chicken will suffice)
1 cup extra long grain rice
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped peppers
1 cup chopped onion
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. marjoram or dried oregano
1 tbsp. cumin, seed or ground
1 tbsp.chili powder. Cajuns use cayenne, but I like grinding my own fresh at home from Morita peppers. They’re a dried red jalapeno for extra smokiness.
Corn bread topping (buy a mix or make your own, I won’t tell if you use a box). Just know that if you use a recipe with sugar in it, the topping could burn a little easier. Ask me later how I know.
1. First prep/gather all your ingredients. If you didn’t chop anything at home and you’re in camp, chop your herbs and onion/pepper/celery. The holy trinity of cajun food are these 3 ingredients, and is based off the French influence in this food. It’s something you can use to start any stew or slow-cooked meal off right.
2. With your fire, this is another slow-cooked meal that will likely take an hour or more to cook. Start your fire, let some coals cook down and get more fire rolling further away from the cooking area. The idea is to have a fire maybe 1 foot away from your pot, so it’s not really cooking anything direct (unless you’re sautéing meat and can pull the pan to the side for slow cooking).
3. Start your corn bread now to let it start activating to fluff up nicely. In camp I will often buy a trusted cornbread mix to bring with. Or I mix my dry ingredients at home and put them into a ziplock bag. You will need to always add milk, butter, and a whipped egg. So have a bowl to bring to camp for whipping up the batter.
4. First whisk with a fork the liquids, add the mixed dry ingredients, and set the bowl aside to rest while you cook the dirty rice. I like to cover with a towel or plastic wrap to keep out the bugs. Note that a big part of the flavor of corn bread lies in the fat used to make it. So if you’ve done my duck confit recipe, add some of that fat to the corn bread!
5. Add some fat to your cast iron: Olive oil, duck fat, bear lard, or butter will work great here. Brown the ground venison with a little salt added.
6. Once the venison is browned add in the holy trinity to sautée, and after the game bird or chicken livers, for a quick sear.
7. Add in your liquid to knock off any browning from the pan, and dump in the herbs and rice, stirring it to get a nice even mixture.
8. Let this start to boil, then pull off the coals, pour cornbread batter on top, or spoon into smaller dumpling-sized pieces, your call.
9. Cover with the lid and if it’s cool, add some coals to the top to warm it up. Just be careful not to get the top too hot if your cornbread has sugar in it, or it’ll burn.
10. Fifteen minutes should be plenty for the rice and cornbread to cook with the residual heat of the cast iron and steam inside. Your cornbread will be super moist and there should be some crunchy rice on the edges and bottom. Don’t be afraid to let it roll longer if your cornbread hasn’t browned or rice isn’t done.
For serving, scoop out some cornbread and spoon the rice on top of your Louisiana Single Pot Meal and enjoy! Add some fresh sprigs of rosemary or other herbs for curb appeal.