It’s all over but the eating for most deer hunters. There are six weeks left of archery deer season, but lots of bowhunters have already called it a season.
Here at Camp See No Deer, bucks and does seem to vanish before the holidays roll around. Off to greener pastures is our guess. If we don’t put some venison in the freezer by Thanksgiving we only see birds and a couple of squirrels from our tree stands.
When a miracle happens and we’ve punched a deer tag or three, the joy of cooking all manner of tasty venison dishes lasts through the winter. Ground venison is our favorite. There are so many recipes that warm a winter kitchen, dishes that we normally don’t fix in spring or summer.
One of our favorites is venison lasagna, but with a surprise twist. Instead of cooked lasagna noodles, our recipe uses frozen ravioli instead. It’s mighty tasty and get this — there are only four basic ingredients. Recipes are made to be tinkered with so we like a couple of optional add-ons that make this lasagna even better. Here’s how to make it.
Brown one pound of ground venison, ground beef or any ground meat. Drain off the fat. You’ll need a jar of spaghetti sauce, about 24 ounces; a bag of frozen cheese ravioli, about 25 ounces; and a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese, about 8 ounces or two cups.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Now layer one-third of the spaghetti sauce, half of the ravioli, half of the cooked venison and a handful of mozzarella. Repeat with one more layer, then top it all off with the rest of the spaghetti sauce and cheese. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.
Check the lasagna after 50 minutes and if the cheese isn’t all melted or the lasagna doesn’t appear done, bake it another 10 minutes or so. All ovens are not created equal.
At Camp See No Deer we toss in a handful of chopped onions while browning the meat just because we love onions. Sliced mushrooms are also good to add.
Another optional little step is to remove the foil and put the lasagna back in the oven under the broiler for about a minute. This puts a touch of golden brown on the cheese that we really like.
Cooks who prefer a meatier lasagna can use beef ravioli instead of the cheese kind. Or for a vegetarian version, use mushrooms in place of the ground meat. A vegetarian neighbor fixes this meatless version and testifies that it’s dee-lish.
A good salad and some garlic bread rounds out this great venison lasagna feast. We just fix some toast, butter it and sprinkle on a little garlic powder. Thinking about that now, we might include some sprinkles of garlic powder or minced garlic on the lasagna layers the next time around.
Another plus to the recipe is there are only a couple of pans to wash. Also, this lasagna tastes even better the next day. That is, if there are any leftovers. Ground venison is a main ingredient in venison lasagna. The recipe only has four basic ingredients, including one that’s a surprise. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)