Braised Venison Shoulder Sloppy Joes

Larry White

Braised Venison Shoulder Sloppy Joes
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When it comes to comfort food for hunters, the sloppy joe is often one of the first dishes that comes to mind. Now don’t get me wrong, the original sloppy joe that's usually made with ground meat and that deliciously sweet and tangy sauce from a can is something that I’ll always cherish. But when I can improve a dish by using brighter and bolder flavors, I’m going to run with it. Also, by using whole muscles like the shoulders, you can slow cook the meat for a few hours and achieve even greater depths of flavor. And I personally don’t grind a lot of my venison, so it's all the easier to skip that step and utilize the braising technique.

Cooking Notes:

If you like thicker sloppy joes, after the meat is fork tender, you can remove the meat from the sauce and then reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency. Add the meat back to the sauce and stir to combine.

This dish can be finished in an electric slow cooker after step number 4. Simply transfer the mixture in its entirety and cook on the slow setting until tender (around 8 hours).

If you’re wanting to try something a little outside of the box, try stuffing this mixture inside of pie dough and baking them. I like to serve these “hand pies” with a creamy American cheese sauce.

Serves: 6 to 8


4 pounds boneless venison shoulder, cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes

¼ cup olive oil

Kosher salt

1 large onion, sliced

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cinnamon (Mexican canela cinnamon works great here)

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chipotle or ancho chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

3 cups crushed tomatoes

Venison stock or water as needed


  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the venison, working in batches if necessary, so that you can achieve a crust on the meat. Season the meat with kosher salt to your liking. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, while reserving the oil in the pot.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. If the pot looks a little dry, add more olive oil as needed. Cook the onions and garlic for around 2 minutes while stirring. Add the chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, allspice, paprika, dried thyme and tomato paste. Cook while stirring for 1 minute.
  3. Add the red wine, tomatoes, vinegar, mustard and sugar to the pot. Scrape up any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan using a metal or wooden spoon. Bring to a light simmer.
  4. Add the meat back to the pot. At this point you can cover with a lid and simmer until tender (around 3 to 4 hours), or you can transfer everything to an electric slow cooker and cook on low for around 7 to 8 hours or until tender.

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About the author

Larry White

Larry White is a hunter, avid outdoorsman and former restaurant chef whose life revolves around food and being in wild places.

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