Holidays are always a prime opportunity to wow your friends and family with some delicious table fare. So why not thaw some of that prized protein in your freezer and wow everyone with your culinary expertise? Even those who are the most squeamish when it comes to wild game won’t be able to resist these three wild dishes.

1. Venison Rotel Dip

Credit: Ro*Tel

Every Super Bowl party, July Fourth picnic and summer potluck features this iconic dish, and so should any long holiday weekend. It’s one of the easiest things in the world to make, but it’s sure to wow your guests. Adding some ground venison to the dish instead of the traditional pork is one way you can sell your family and friends on wild game.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground venison, cooked and drained
  • 1 lb (16 oz) Velveeta®, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained

Steps:

  1. Mix ingredients together in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until Velveeta is completely melted, stirring after 3 minutes.
  2. Or, place all ingredients in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir well and cook on low until the cheese is completely melted — probably 1 to 2 hours. Keep the slow cooker set to warm to serve during a party, giving the mixture a good stir before serving
  3. Store leftover dip in airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat dip in microwave before serving. Serve with corn chips.

Tip: If your guests like a little extra heat, swap out the original Ro*Tel for Ro*Tel Hot Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies and use Velveeta Jalapeno, or add diced jalapeño peppers.

Related: 5 Weird Wild Game Meats and How to Cook Them

2. Every Hunter’s Favorite Jalapeño Poppers

Credit: iStock

Most experienced hunters roll their eyes at the idea of jalapeño poppers, and I get it. They’re overplayed, like songs on the radio, to the point that most hunters are sick of ’em. Dare I even suggest to wrap them in bacon? But here’s my counterargument: these savory, cheesy, spicy bite-sized delectables are a great way to introduce non-hunters to wild game. They’re irresistible! They’re easy to whip up, and you can use any game of your choosing with them. And you should definitely wrap them in bacon.

Ingredients (makes 20 poppers):

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 chopped garlic clove (Tip: If you’re using ground meat, sauté this with the meat, then drain and add to cheese mixture. Delicious.)
  • 10 jalapeños
  • Cooked game of your choice in preferred seasoning, sliced in half-inch-think slices (I recommend pheasant or dove, but venison, pork or duck would also work well. If you use ground meat, just combine with cheese mixture.)
  • 5 slices bacon, halved
  • Maple syrup (optional)

Steps:

  1. Mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and garlic together in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Slice the jalapeños in half and remove seeds and membranes (adjust to your heat preference). Fill each jalapeño half with cheese mixture to brim of pepper, making sure not to overstuff, and place the sliced game on top. (Or, if you used ground meat, combine the cooked and drained meat with cheese mixture and fill jalapeño.) Next, wrap the popper in on halved-slice of bacon. Insert toothpicks to hold popper together. Brush with maple syrup, if desired. (This adds a nice caramelization factor and offers sweetness to combat the salt from the cheese and bacon and the heat from the peppers.)
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F until bacon is crispy, about 25 minutes. Or, and this is my preference, grill until bacon is thoroughly cooked  and exposed parts of the jalapeños are charred. Plate, serve and enjoy!

Tip: Depending on how many people you’re expecting to serve at your holiday festivities, this recipe can be halved, double, tripled, etc.. to ensure that there are plenty to go around.

Credit: iStock

3.  Wild Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I don’t have anything against hamburgers or hotdogs. They make great picnic table fare for any hot-weather holiday. But why not change things up a bit? These barbecue pulled pork sandwiches are simple to make and are a great way to showcase the meat from your hog hunts throughout the year. I recommend soaking most wild pork cuts in a brine for at least a day before cooking. Check out this article on the science behind a brine and for a hog brine recipe from the Girl Hunter herself, Georgia Pellegrini.

Related: The Paradox of Dunking a Wild Turkey Into a Bourbon Brine

Ingredients:

Steps:

  1. Mix the brown sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder, making sure to get under and flaps of fat. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  3. Place the pork in a large roasting pan (I like the disposable aluminum kind for a quick cleanup) on top of the onion halves. Roast for approximately 7 hours until fork-tender and falling apart. Remove the pork from the pot and set it on a cutting board. Slice some of the onion.
  4. Place a pot on the stove over medium-high heat and pour in the au jus from the roasting pan. Add the entire barbecue sauce and stir to heat and slightly thicken.
  5. Once the sauce is made and heating on the stove, shred the pork with two forks, taking time to do it right. Add the sliced onions to the pork and shred them, too. Return pork and onion mixture to roasting pan and pour sauce over. Toss until it’s coated to your liking. Keep in the oven on warm until ready to serve on hamburger rolls. Enjoy! Pairs well with a dark beer.

While you’re at it, check out these other tried-and-true wild game recipes:

Featured photo: iStock