Venison taco crowned at AWF Gulf Coast cook-off

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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By David Rainer

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

It appears taco dishes filled with savory wild game and fresh fish are hard to beat at the Alabama Wildlife Federation Wild Game Cook-Offs, and the recent Gulf Coast competition in Spanish Fort was no exception.

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Before an overflow crowd at the Blue Gill Restaurant, the Venison Birria Taco dish prepared by the Five Rivers Fiesta team of Daniel Haas, Thomas Clark, Todd Amos and Charles Green was crowned overall champion.

Haas said the cooking team members decided on venison because their freezers were well stocked with deer meat. After perusing several recipes, Haas added his own flare to the dish with a dipping sauce made with the pan drippings from the slow-cooked venison and spice blend.

Venison Birria Tacos

Feeds 10-12

3-4 pounds venison


Black pepper

Garlic powder

1/4 cup cooking oil of choice

Birria Sauce

6 dried guajillo chiles, seeded

4 dried chile de árbol peppers

2 chipotle peppers

2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

2 tablespoons adobo sauce

1 can fire-roasted tomatoes

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1-2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

Juice of 1 lime

Dozen flour tortillas

1 pound Mexican four-cheese blend

1 cup pickled red onions and jalapeños

2 bunches green onions

2 bunches fresh cilantro


Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder and brown in the hot oil before transferring to a Dutch oven or Crockpot along with pan drippings.

To prepare the sauce, drop the peppers into 1 gallon boiling water for 5 minutes. Reserve 3 cups of the chile cooking liquid. Place rehydrated peppers into food processor and blend. Add next 10 ingredients through lime juice to food processor. Add chile water until desired consistency is reached. Pour sauce over meat for braising.

If you use a Dutch oven, place the meat in the oven for four hours at 325 degrees and another 30 minutes at 350 degrees with the lid removed. With a Crockpot, turn it on high and cook for three hours and then turn to low for another 90 minutes.

Visit for a schedule of the remaining 2022 cook-offs.