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For some reason, eating venison brings to mind memories of my Dad. No, he never hunted deer. Bird hunting was his passion. He raised and trained English pointers to route out grouse or pheasants and regularly went into the woods with friends or even his four children (although we participated reluctantly). At the time, I had zero interest in hunting. But that all changed, later, when I was nearing 30. Then, I finally made the effort to connect with him in what would become one of my fondest memories: a bird hunting adventure where I got to eat what I had caught, my first grouse. Even though that seems far removed from eating venison I had no part in hunting or preparing, I’d like to think he would have approved of this Venison Shepherd’s Pie. Not only is it downright delicious, it’s also AIP / Paleo and Whole30 approved.
This recipe is also, unbelievably, my first experience making venison. I know, terrible! Because now, I am making it my mission to find more ways to cook venison, as well as ways to source it. We live in the Northeast, with deer a-PLENTY, so I’m sure it’s just a matter of time till we find someone who already hunts, butchers and brings home their venison. There is also something that just feels right about eating more venison: it is tasty, versatile, and as local as local gets! Plus it’s never out of season.
This recipe gets two thumbs up from my hubby Mike and daughter C. When that happens, I know I’ve got something GOOD!! They do not eat AIP and my goal is for every recipe to get their stamp of approval. I know that many of us have family members who don’t eat AIP – but I’m here to tell you making meals that satisfy all are not only possible but also easy and completely delicious!!
I used yuca as the topping for this recipe but you could just as easily swap it out for squash or even sweet plantains – oh my, serious YUM. The other thing I love about this, besides how easy it is, is that it makes a large amount (yay leftovers) and you could easily double it to feed a crowd.
I did get to use this nifty culinary torch (Cris and her husband are huge foodies and have all the fun kitchen tools)! But you can certainly use the oven broiler. Whichever way you go, just don’t skip the broiling bit at the end! It gives the crust a really nice flavor. (But if you use the oven broiler, make sure you don’t stray too far from the kitchen vicinity – that crust brows up fast!)
Look at the deliciousness that is caramelized onions, bacon, venison…
You will love this Venison Shepherd’s Pie! Make it as part of your #batchcooking and freeze it for quick reheats during the week. It would also be great for a pot luck or larger gathering.
Enjoy this friends! And if you make this recipe, don’t forget to #letscreatethesweetlife
What You’ll Need for This Recipe:
- either Otto’s Cassava flour or coconut flour work equally well.
- This brand remains my go-to sea salt!
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Venison Shepherd's Pie (AIP / Paleo)
- 2 onions, sliced thin
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 lb venison (or sub other ground meat)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp cassava or coconut flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp bone broth or coconut milk
- 1 medium yuca
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 cup bone broth or coconut milk
Preheat oven to 400 and heat large skillet over medium heat. Fill a large pot with water and place on stove over high heat to bring to a boil.
Slice onions while pan is heating up.
Once skillet is hot, add bacon and cook till crispy. Set aside.
Turn heat slightly up, towards medium-high. Caramelize onions by spreading them out and walking away. Allow to cook for ~8-10 minutes before moving. After moving around in pan, continue to let them cook until they are deeply browned and reduced in size, another ~5-8 minutes.
While onions are caramelizing, cut yuca into chunks and put into boiling water. *(See below if you need instructions for cutting yuca!) Cook until easily pierced with fork, ~8-10 minutes.
Drain yuca and return to pot, adding salt, garlic powder, and broth or milk. If mixture seems too dry, add broth or milk 1 Tbsp at a time until creamy. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Once onions are caramelized, push them to sides of pan. Add venison and cook until no pink remains. Break up with spatula as needed while cooking.
Add spices and combine with the venison and onions.
Move meat mixture to sides of pan and make roux: put 1/4 cup broth / milk in center of pan and immediately add the Tbsp of flour. Whisk until a paste has formed then add additional 2 Tbsp of chosen liquid and whisk again to incorporate.
Combine roux together with meat mixture and turn off heat. Crumble bacon and add to mixture, mixing well to incorporate.
At this point, you may have a bit too much fat in your pan (I didn't mind but there may be some who find it excessive). You can use a paper towel to lightly soak up the fat.
Pour mixture into 7 x 11 baking dish and top with yuca. Bake for 15 minutes. Broil for an additional ~2 minutes for a beautifully browned crust. Serve and enjoy!!
*New to preparing yuca? This tutorial from The Spruce shows you what to do, step by step!