A wild twist on a classic Mexican dish, Crispy Venison Carnitas is easy to make, super versatile, and incredibly tasty!
What is Venison Carnitas?
Spanish for “little meats”, Carnitas are a traditional slow-cooked meat, usually a roast from a tougher part of the animal. In this recipe, I’m using a small roast from the neck of a deer. The meat is cooked until very tender in a stock of broth and some kind of fresh citrus juice. Here’s the good part. After the meat is shredded really fine, it is spread thin on a baking sheet & baked in a very hot oven for just a minute or two. This final step gives the meat a slight crunch that you didn’t know it needed. The meat is still moist & tender, but now has a few crispy pieces that add the perfect amount of texture and a new level of flavor. Pile it on your tortilla of choice and you’re in for a real treat.
Cooking with Big Game
Cooking with game meat can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! While beef and chicken are prevalent in the palate of modern Americans, it was animals like deer, buffalo, elk, and pheasant (to name a few) that nourished ancient cultures and the early settlers that dotted the land. Coming from a girl who raises cattle, I think they are so amazing, but I also love game meat. I enjoy the hunt, sure, but recently I have really loved introducing the different flavors and nutrient content that these animals offer to my own cooking. I’ve been really motivated to cook more game, especially after lots of research into the healing powers of ancestral diets. This meat is as natural, organic, and grass-fed as it gets without the insane price tags.
My husband and I have been eating what we hunt for quite a while now. Commercial beef actually tastes pretty bland when you compare it to something like an elk or deer. Game meat is packed with so much flavor. Coming from a healthy animal that has spent its life eating a completely species-appropriate diet of natural grasses, the meat is the deepest, most beautiful ruby red. The vibrant color reflects the rich nutrients that the animal has gathered and transformed in the meat. I just love it. You don’t see anything in the store that looks as beautiful as this…
More Recipes Using Venison Carnitas
You can make crispy venison carnitas and use the meat in many ways. It’s perfect for burros, enchiladas, tacos (my favorite), quesadillas, nachos, and even sandwiches. Simply serve it over rice and beans for a yummy protein bowl. You can’t go wrong! I highly recommend whipping up some of my easy corn tortillas and stuffing them plum full with crispy carnitas, bits of salty queso fresco, red onion & cilantro. Top your homemade creation with guacamole & sour cream- my mouth is watering. You have to try it!
Slow Cooker vs. Instant Pot
I created this recipe using a pressure cooker, but you can also make crispy venison carnitas in a crock pot/slow cooker. Just brown the meat and sauté the veggies in a separate pan. Deglaze the pan with the stock and juice, then put it all in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours.
A Few Notes…
- Venison is much leaner than pork or beef, so you may need to use additional oil while cooking to up the fat content. I suggest a few tablespoons of lard or ghee while searing the meat and sautéing the veggies.
- Be careful not to dry out the meat in the oven! A short amount of time on very high heat gives it the perfect crunch. Spoon on the cooking juice after crisping.
- Make a big batch and use it in multiple ways throughout the week!
- Reserve leftover spice rub for other dishes. I use mine to make Spanish rice!
Also works with:
Elk, javelina, beef & pork
Lastly, if you make this recipe, be sure and let me know in the comments & give it a rating! I’d love to hear what you think. Don’t forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram! I’m so excited to see what you make!
Be sure to Pin this recipe for later!
Crispy Venison Carnitas
- Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker
- Sheet Pan
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp real salt
- 2(ish) lb venison roast
- 2-3 tbsp cooking fat lard, butter, ghee, tallow
- 1 red onion sliced
- 5 small garlic cloves smashed but still whole
- 2 cups bone broth or stock of choice
- 2 tbsp fresh lime or orange juice
- 3 tbsp spice mix
- dry the meat with a paper towel and rub 1-2 tbsp. of spice mix, covering every surface
- place it in the fridge for at least an hour, but ideally overnight
- remove from the fridge and let the meat come to room temperature before cooking
- turn on the pressure cooker to the "sauté" setting and add the cooking fat
- sear the roast on both sides until crisp and brown, adding the onions halfway
- once the meat is browned, transfer it to a plate
- sauté the onions until limp & add the smashed garlic, cooking until fragrant
- pour in the broth and citrus juice to deglaze the pan, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot
- put the meat back in the pot & lock the lid
- cook on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until tender
- once cooked, quick release the pressure and shred the meat in a separate container
- spread the shredded meat very thin on a sheet pan and roast it for 1-2 minutes in a 500° oven. Be very careful not to dry out the meat.
- drizzle spoonfuls of the cooking liquids over the crisped carnitas & serve