Venison Neck Roast Cheesesteak Hand Pies
Very few foods transcend almost all food cultures. Hand pies are one that does. Nearly every country has at least one traditional hand pie recipe, and many have several, often regional varieties that make use of local ingredients.
This one uses refrigerated pie crusts and a slow cooker for tender, flaky pies with very little work. My go-to cut for this recipe is a neck roast. Often left behind when the deer is processed or sent to the taxidermist to be caped out for a mount, the neck of a mature whitetail buck holds a ton of meat. You can add it to the grind pile for burger or turn it into a couple of roasts.
A venison neck roast slow cooked until tender makes the perfect filling for these hand pies.
Anyone who watches a deer knows that the neck muscles are in constant use while the deer continuously swivels its head in search of danger. All of that motion leaves the neck roast on the tough side. The meat benefits from long, slow cooking processes like this slow cooker recipe.
Season the neck roast well before browning.
With the garden in full swing, there are plenty of banana peppers to be used. If you don’t have fresh banana peppers, jarred (drained) will work just fine, but don’t add them until you add the mushrooms.
Fresh, ripe banana peppers are the perfect addition to these hand pies.
Whenever I use the slow cooker for a recipe, I like to start by browning the seasoned meat in a skillet. The extra step isn’t crucial, but it does add tons of flavor to the finished product. Season the roast well on all sides with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, along with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, sear the roast on all sides. You aren’t trying to cook it through, just get a rich golden brown all over the surface, so 3-5 minutes per side should be plenty.
Browning meat in a skillet before adding it to the slow cooker adds an extra layer of flavor to the finished dish.
Move the browned roast to your slow cooker. Add the broth, both gravy mixes, the pickle juice, and the seeded and halved peppers.
Add the peppers to the slow cooker at the beginning of the cook.
Cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4. At this point, add the mushrooms. Turn the cooker to low and continue to cook for another 1-2 hours or until the roast shreds easily with a fork.
The brown gravy and au jus mixes are an easy way to make a rich, flavorful gravy.
Turn the slow cooker off and use a pair of forks to shred the meat into the gravy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat, peppers and mushrooms to a large bowl to cool slightly. You want a little gravy in with the meat, but not enough to make the pies runny. Reserve remaining gravy to serve with the pies.
Slow-cook until the venison is tender and shreds easily.
Unroll a pie crust on a lightly floured work surface. Use a knife or a pizza cutter to separate the crust into two equal halves.
Refrigerated pie dough is a quick and easy way to make a hand pie without a lot of extra work.
Spoon about ¾ cup of the cooled meat mixture onto one side of each crust half, leaving plenty of room around the edges. The cooling process is important. Transferring bubbling hot filling to the raw dough will cause it to tear. Top the meat with a slice of cheese folded in half to fit the pie.
Spoon some of the cooled meat mixture onto half of a pie shell and top it with a folded slice of provolone cheese.
Fold the empty side of the crust over the filling and use your fingers to roll and crimp the edges together to seal the pie tightly closed. Transfer each pie to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and continue the process with the remaining crusts.
Crimp the pie shell together around the filling, then brush with egg wash before baking to a golden brown.
Once you’ve formed all the pies, brush the surface of each pie with beaten egg to aid in browning. Transfer to a preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and flaky. Serve with reserved gravy.
1 venison neck roast, 1-2 pounds
Cavender’s Greek Seasoning Blend, salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for browning
1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth
1 packet (.87 ounce) Brown Gravy mix
1 packet (.87 ounce) Au Jus mix
½ cup dill pickle juice (or pepper juice if using jarred peppers)
1 pound (15-20) banana peppers, split and seeded
1 pound mushrooms of choice, sliced
2 packs (4 crusts total) refrigerated pie dough
½ pound provolone cheese, sliced
1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water