I’ve never met a hunter who hasn’t turned a bird or ungulate into a popper. It’s a universal appetizer that everyone has served at some point.
In this recipe, I utilize venison in more ways than one. I take a classic jalapeño and cream cheese popper and wrap it in caul fat instead of bacon. Caul fat is the net of fat that wraps around the stomach of ruminants. It’s self-adhesive and renders well in a cast iron skillet, making it the perfect substitute for bacon.
Time to make
1 hour, plus marinating time
1 lb. venison steak
Caul fat (or substitute bacon)
12 large jalapeños
8 oz. cream cheese
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup water1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of oil
Also works with
Any waterfowl or upland bird
Cast iron skillet, oven or grill
- Make the marinade by blending the red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, rosemary, garlic, and oil. Slice the venison steaks into 24 strips that will fit on top of the jalapeños. Add the venison steaks to the marinade and let them rest in the fridge for one to two hours. Reserve the marinade.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the water, cream cheese, and green onions. You can reserve a small portion of the green onions for garnish.
- Slice the jalapeños in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
- If your caul fat was frozen, place it in a large bowl of lukewarm water to clean and make pliable. Remove it and put on top of a large cutting board, gently patting away excess water. Use scissors and cut the caul fat into rectangular squares. Next, place a jalapeño on top of each caul fat square and fill it with cream cheese. Add a slice of venison steak and gently wrap the caul fat around it. Use scissors to cut away the excess fat. The caul fat should stick to itself. Don’t cover it too many times; it will take too long for the fat to render and you need to be frugal with two dozen poppers.
- Place a cast iron skillet in an oven or grill set at 400 degrees while pre-heating. Before cooking, make sure the cast iron skillet is hot. Add a drizzle of oil, just enough to lightly coat the bottom. Lay each popper meat-side down and cook for 1-2 minutes to brown the top.
- Flip each popper and generously brush the tops with the reserved marinade. Transfer to the oven or shut the lid on the grill and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the caul fat has melted. Serve immediately with sliced green onions for garnish.