Muley Caldillo (Mexican Style Mule Deer Stew)
Rummaging through the depths of a nearly empty freezer the other day revealed a nice roast from last fall's New Mexico mule deer buck. I don't know why, but I love Tex-Mex-style recipes with mule deer. Maybe it's because they remind me of the high-desert cactus and scrub, the roadside fresh tortilla stands, and the aroma of roasting Hatch green chile peppers that fill the late September and October air.
This caldillo recipe blends slow-simmered mule deer with salsas, roasted peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes, potatoes and vegetables to make an extremely flavorful stew that instantly transports me back to western hunts. We serve the stew with lime wedges for squeezing and warm corn tortillas for soaking up every last bit of the broth.
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds mule deer roast, cut into 1 cubes
2 medium onions, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-oz. can Rotel
1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 8-ounce can Roasted Hatch Green Chile peppers
1 cup tomato salsa
1 1/2 cups salsa verde
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, skin on, cut into 1 cubes
16-ounce bag of frozen sweet corn
Tortillas and lime wedges for serving
In a large cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the oil or lard over medium-high heat. Add the mule deer and brown the meat, stirring often.
Once the meat is well browned, add the onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add the remaining ingredients except for the corn and potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 60 minutes.
Add the potatoes and corn and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with a lime wedge and warm corn tortillas.