Venison Falafel

A while back, a friend of mine made me falafel. And I loved it! I knew I had to make it! I also know that meatless meals are a hard sell in our house (read: very carnivorous husband). We’ve never tried doing anything like “Meatless Monday” because frankly, we believe that good quality meat is very good for you. We have an abundance of meat thanks to hunting, fishing and farming. So we are almost always trying to use it up!

So I customized it, and came up with these!

Venison Falafel, two different ways!

I knew I wanted to share this with you, but I used chickpea flour, which is a simple and fast way to make them, but if you don’t have a grain mill, chickpea flour is far from frugal. I came up with a way using whole chickpeas for you as well! They are pretty low in meat, considering that half of pound of meat feeds 3-4 people. I’ve also lightened it up by instead of deep frying you brown and then bake.

 

Both recipes start with the same things. Ground Venison, dried onion, dried garlic, bread crumbs, an egg, fresh parsley and cumin.

Then you either add 1 cup of chickpea flour and 1/4 c of water or 1 cup over cooked chickpeas. The methods are slightly different, and I’ll outline what happens after you get the base of the falafel together.

 

Chickpea flour:

To the base add 1 cup of chickpea flour and 1/4 cup of water, alternating to get a consistency that you can make into meatballs.

 

Chickpeas:

Bring 1 cup of cooked chickpeas to a boil in 2 cups of water and then simmer for 15 minutes (I’d love if you cooked your beans from dry! For a more frugal option, of course 🙂 ) Drain, mix together with the base and then puree in a food processor until the chickpeas are just mush.

 

You then form into flat balls, about 1 1/4 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick, brown in a frying pan and then bake in an oven.

 

Pro’s and Cons

Chickpea Flour:

Pro’s: Way faster, less dishes.

Con’s: More costly if you don’t have a grain mill.

Taste: I preferred these ones.

Whole Chickpeas:

Pro’s: Cheaper

Con’s: Longer method and more dishes.

Taste: Cowboy preferred the smooth texture of these!

 

 

So what do you do with Falafel?

Well, you serve it with Pita bread (I’ve made my own and bought it), chutney (Remember I shared the recipe specifically for this!? Or you can buy it!), Tzatziki or Green Onion Yogurt Dip (Yesterday’s post!). I like to make as many components for a meal from scratch as I can. BUT! Falafel can also be a very fast meal if you purchase Tzatziki, you could skip the chutney, pick up some Pita at the grocery store and you’ve got a meal! We served with raw veggies to dip in the yogurt dip. Yum 🙂

 

 

Venison Falafel Two Ways

1/2 lb ground venison (beef or other game)

2 tsp dried onion

2 tsp dried garlic

1 tsp cumin

2 tbsp bread crumbs

1 egg

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/3 c fresh parsley (or 2 tbsp dried parsley. That might mess with the consistensy a bit, so be careful)

Either 1) Chickpea flour and 1/4 c water or 2) 1 c cooked chickpeas

 

Method: Mix together venison to parsley and then follow 1) or 2) depending on which type of chickpeas you choose.

1)Into the base, using a fork mix flour and water alternating.

2) Bring the cooked chickpeas and 2 cups of water to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Put the base and chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until chickpeas are pureed.

 

With either method, continue with the following. Heat a large, heavy bottomed frying pan on medium high heat until water sizzles. Preheat oven to 350F. Form meat into 1 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch thick flat patties. When pan is hot, pour just enough oil to create a small skim of oil. Enough that they won’t stick! Brown patties on one side, then flip and repeat. Put into a 9″13″ cake pan and reserve until all of them are browned. The chickpea flour ones made 19, and whole chickpeas made 26.  When all are browned, cover with tinfoil and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

 

I really hope you try this kind of exotic, fast, frugal, and fun meal soon!

 

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Valdeen’s Beans

Did you cook a bunch of beans from dried to freeze? Didja Didja?

I love this dish! Who doesn’t love bacon and beans? It’s pretty simple to throw together, makes a large batch, with lots to freeze or feed a crowd.

Cook some bacon! I use ends and pieces, because it’s ridiculously cheaper.

I know I made this big deal about using dried beans, but for this recipe, you need to use one can of baked beans. Plain jane, in maple syrup ones thank you very much.

Keep the can! It’ll be your measure for the other beans…

I thawed, rinsed and then poured the beans into the can to get the same amount for the other beans..

Kidney Beans

Small White Beans…

And I didn’t get a picture of the green beans!

They’re all going to go together in the bacon pot, if it’s an oven safe one, otherwise pour the bacon into a casserole dish, then pour the beans into the casserole dish

Add in the other seasonin’s

Then stir this aaalll together!

Bake ‘er for a while.

Then….

Then… Mix it with rice if you want a real nummy treat!

This is good on a bun

At a winter potluck

At a summer potluck!

Any day of the year for dinner really.

I actually ate it for lunch the other day.

Can you tell that it’s versatile?

Valdeen’s Beans

8 pieces bacon, cooked, OR 1 c chopped bacon ends and pieces (fat too!) cooked

1 c chopped onion OR 2 tbsp dried, minced onion

14 oz can baked beans, preferably simple, like in maple syrup

Empty baked bean can full of kidney beans OR 14 oz can kidney beans

Empty baked bean can full of lima beans/white beans OR 14 oz can lima beans/white beans (either bean works)

3/4 c brown sugar

1/2 c white OR apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp pepper

salt

Mix all together in a dutch oven or casserole dish and bake at 350F for 1 hr.

 

Cornmeal, Cocoa and Chili Powder

**Update July 2013…this post is badly in need of some new photos and it’s on my to do list! Bear with me if you’re reading it before then**

All kind of different ingredients right?

You think about Cornmeal,

and grits, cornbread and chips come to mind.

Cocoa?

chocolate bars, cake, milk chocolate. All yum.

Chili powder is a little skinnier of a topic.

You think of Chili, right?

Well what if you added cocoa, cornmeal, and chili powder into your chili?

Did you know you’ll have the gawsh darned best chili ever?

So all those beans you cooked from dried? Here is what to do with them!

Start by browning your meat, onion (Use a white onion, I just can’t. Darn Cowboy.), and garlic in a heavy bottomed pot with oil.

You’re going to toss in a bunch of things here. Crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, corn, salt, pepper, cornmeal, sugar, cocoa and chili powder.

I have a reason for each of the ingredients….

Crushed tomatoes: smoother chili

Whole tomatoes: nice chunks

Black Beans and Corn: I love this combo!

Kidney Beans: Classic bean for Chili

You can’t be without Salt and Pepper! Also, because I use home canned tomatoes, and dried beans, it’s very important to salt this baby.

Sugar: Counteract the acidity of tomatoes

Cornmeal: This makes the depth of the corn seem to go beyond the burst of sweetness in each kernal

Cocoa: This adds an amazing depth to the chili. Not only in flavour, but in colour as well!

Chili powder: You just can’t be without this in Chili!!

Cook all these ingredients together for a long time, I mean hooours and hooours. Stir it frequently, and keeping it bubbling on a low temperature. About half an hour before the end, throw in the mushrooms.

It’s so thick. So simple too in it’s flavours as well.

And absolutely yummy to eat

Chili

1 1/2 lb ground meat

1/2 c onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp oil

4 c crushed tomatoes

3 c whole tomatoes

1 3/4 c black beans (I think this is a medium sized can of beans)

1 3/4 c kidney beans

1/2 c corn

Salt- atleast 1 tbsp or so if using home canned things

Pepper to taste

2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tbsp cornmeal

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa

2 1/2 tbsp chili powder

1/4 c mushrooms

Brown meat, onion and garlic in a large heavy bottomed pot with oil. Add all but mushrooms. Cook for hours and hours until thick and rich. Add mushrooms and cook 1/2 hour longer. Serve up!

Looking at the Monster in the Closet

I have a cousin who, no matter how much a put a bug in her ear about using dried beans over canned beans, still used canned beans!

You know who you are.

Dried beans have crazy good reasons for being used over canned beans.

No added salt, not preserved in tin, way cheaper!

This is the cost breakdown for where I live.

1 can of beans = 1 3/4 c of beans @ $1.50 per can

1 lb of dried beans = 6 c of cooked beans @ $1.50- $2.75 per pound

Canned beans = $0.86 per cup

Dried beans = $0.25- $0.45 per cup

Are you a convert yet? Yes they take a bit of extra work, but I’m going to show you how to make that all easier for you!

Dried beans must be soaked, either overnight, or a one hour quick soak. I’m going to show you how I do the overnight method.

I filled quart jars (and one pint jar) with various beans I had. You don’t want to fill your container more than half, because they will swell that much!

Left to right is small white beans, garbanzo beans (chick peas), black beans, kidney beans and adzuki beans.

Here is what adzuki beans look like. They are pretty tiny. I’d never used them before, but heard my sister mention them once, and when I came across them for $1.50/lb, I couldn’t pass them up! This is a whole pound in the jar.

By the way, as much as it looks pretty using mason jars, they were a pain in my rear to get the overnight soaked beans out of. Use yogurt containers or another similar container.

Fill the container up to the top with water, and go to bed.

Look how much they grew!

This is where we get to the cooking. Different beans call for different cooking times. Anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Bring them to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook away. Take a bean out, let it cool off, and bite it in half. A bit on the undercooked side is better. There will be white inside if they are undercooked. I cooked the adzuki beans waaay too long! I had 3 pots going on the stove one morning while we were plugging away getting ready for the day.

Drain, rinse and set aside the beans to cool. You can bag them in ziplock,

Oooorrr, if you’re a lucky gal like me, you’ll have a Foodsaver vacuum packer your Mom and Stepdad gifted you and your fiance for Christmas! Wahoo!

I packaged them all in about 2-3 c bags for easy thawing!

And labeled them with bean type and date. You can reuse Foodsaver bags, and even simmer them in water, so you could thaw these so easily. Look I now have 11 bags of various beans in my freezer! I used some in Chili I made that day. I’ll share that recipe soon.

S0 nice and handy!

Sooo much cheaper.

So Cousin? Do I have you convinced yet?

I wrote a whole darn blog post dedicated to it, just to trying and convert you!

Do you want me to bring over beans to your house and show you directly how to do this?

I am so dedicated to this mission, that I will even go that far!!!