It seems taco dishes full of savory wild recreation and recent fish are arduous to beat on the Alabama Wildlife Federation Wild Sport Prepare dinner-Offs, and the latest Gulf Coast competitors in Spanish Fort was no exception.

Earlier than an overflow crowd on the Blue Gill Restaurant, the Venison Birria Taco dish ready by the 5 Rivers Fiesta group of Daniel Haas, Thomas Clark, Todd Amos and Charles Inexperienced was topped total champion.

Chef David Ramey’s Day Boat Tuna Taco was the winner within the fish division. (David Rainer/ADCNR)

“We had a blast,” Haas mentioned. “I used to be worn out afterward, however we had enjoyable. I’ve seen this dish on TV exhibits, and I’ve eaten it in a few totally different locations in Texas. It’s slightly bit extra of a mainstream dish now, a fairly frequent Mexican dish. Some individuals find out about it, however we thought it might nonetheless be a change of tempo on the cook-off.”

Haas mentioned the cooking group members selected venison as a result of their freezers had been well-stocked with deer meat. After perusing a number of recipes, Haas added his personal flare to the dish with a dipping sauce made with the pan drippings from the slow-cooked venison and spice mix.

“The recipe known as for a venison roast, however I’m not an professional at deboning a hind quarter, so we used a very good little bit of backstrap and tenderloin as a result of it’s quite a bit simpler to take away the silverskin and connective tissue off these cuts,” he mentioned. “I took a recipe made to feed 10 to 12 individuals and elevated it instances 10. The recipe requires a big Dutch oven, however due to the best way we had been cooking, we used Crockpots. You’ll have to go your native taqueria to search out all of the chile peppers.”

Venison Birria Tacos

Feeds 10-12

  • 3-4 kilos venison
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil of selection
  • Birria Sauce
  • 6 dried guajillo chiles, seeded
  • 4 dried chile de árbol peppers
  • 2 chipotle peppers
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Dozen flour tortillas
  • 1 pound Mexican four-cheese mix
  • 1 cup pickled pink onions and jalapeños
  • 2 bunches inexperienced onions
  • 2 bunches recent cilantro


Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder and brown within the sizzling oil earlier than transferring to a Dutch oven or Crockpot together with pan drippings.

To organize the sauce, drop the peppers into 1 gallon boiling water for five minutes. Reserve 3 cups of the chile cooking liquid. Place rehydrated peppers into meals processor and mix. Add subsequent 10 substances by way of lime juice to meals processor. Add chile water till desired consistency is reached. Pour sauce over meat for braising.

Should you use a Dutch oven, place the meat within the oven for 4 hours at 325 levels and one other half-hour at 350 levels with the lid eliminated. With a Crockpot, flip it on excessive and cook dinner for 3 hours after which flip to low for one more 90 minutes.

“After about 4 hours, begin checking the meat with a fork,” Haas mentioned. “Should you can spin the fork in it, it’s tender, and you can begin shredding it. One of many issues to search for if you’re sluggish cooking wild recreation is a foam will construct up on high of the meat. Scrape off the froth and eliminate it.”

After the meat turns into tender, take away the venison from the cooking utensil and shred. Take tortillas and coat with the sauce remaining within the pan earlier than heating the tortilla on a griddle, frying pan or grill.

“There’s slightly layer of fats that shall be on high of the sauce,” Haas mentioned. “We take the tortillas and dredge them by way of that earlier than we warmth the tortilla. You realize when it’s coated as a result of it will likely be darkish pink on each side. That’s the place you actually get the flavour. That’s the deal since you get slightly crisp on the tortilla by cooking in that rendered fats. You cook dinner that tortilla for about 30 seconds on one facet and flip it.”

After the flip, take a portion of cheese and place on the tortilla and a portion of the shredded meat on one half. Fold the tortilla and cook dinner for a couple of minute. Flip and cook dinner for one more 30 seconds or till the cheese is melted earlier than inserting on the serving plate.

“The recipe requires chopped white onions, however we truly did pickled pink onions and jalapeños,” Haas mentioned. “We additionally sprinkled chopped inexperienced onions and cilantro on high. Then we took our leftover sauce and ladled it up for the dipping sauce.

“We’re glad everyone appreciated them. We most likely served 150 tacos. We had been staying busy. Folks saved coming again. So far as profitable, I’m shocked we swept the competitors, however I used to be fairly assured that, if the dish was executed the best way I envisioned, it might have a shot at profitable a minimum of the sport division. We thought it might be slightly totally different, and never many individuals are going to show down melted cheese, slow-cooked meat and fried tortillas. I like cooking, and I just like the chaos of cooking for a big group of household and pals.”

The 5 Rivers Fiesta group advances to the AWF Wild Sport Prepare dinner-Off State Finals subsequent August.

The opposite taco dish within the operating for total champion was Fairhope Fish Home’s Day Boat Tuna Tacos, which gained the fish class. Chef David Ramey seared recent yellowfin tuna and ready a tasty taco. Hooks Lake took second in fish, adopted by Workforce Hiller.

Caden Bradshaw slices a medium-rare goose breast, which gained high honors within the fowl division. (David Rainer/ADCNR)

BA’s Barbeque went conventional to win the fowl competitors with its Goose Steak. Caden Bradshaw mentioned holding it easy is the important thing to tasty, tender specklebelly (white-fronted) goose breasts.

“Specklebellies are known as the ribeyes of the sky,” Bradshaw mentioned. “I didn’t soak them in any milk or ice water like some individuals say you must do to get the gamey style out. All I do is be sure that I take away all of the fats off the geese. You get your favourite steak seasoning. I used Kinder’s this time, however simply use no matter you want. I sprinkle the seasoning on the goose breasts and place them in a plastic bag for about half-hour. Then I put the breasts on a sizzling grill or griddle.

“You flip them each 5 minutes till the inner temperature reaches 130 levels. That’s a pleasant medium uncommon. I allow them to relaxation from 5 to eight minutes after which drizzle them with melted garlic butter. Slice them towards the grain, they usually’re able to eat.”

A Wild Turkey Confit ready by the Tensaw Delta Waterfowl/CCA Japanese Shore group took second within the fowl division, adopted by Workforce Hiller with a Quail Wrap.

Gator Bites by Tools Depot took second within the recreation class. Japanese Shore Ace {Hardware} took third with Bacon-Wrapped Venison.

Go to for a schedule of the remaining 2022 cook-offs.

David Rainer is an award-winning author who has lined Alabama’s nice outside for 25 years. He writes for Outside Alabama, the web site of the Alabama Division of Conservation and Pure Sources.

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