Prickly Pear Glazed Steak Skewers
Pro chef Sarah Glover (@missarahglover) brings culinary perfection to summer evenings at camp – and what says “summer evenings at camp” better than juicy, fresh-off-the-grill steak skewers?
How about juicy, fresh-off-the-grill meat skewers marinated in a perfectly sweet (and perfectly unexpected) prickly pear glaze?
Sarah’s prickly pear glazed venison steak skewers check all the boxes: they’re approachable, infinitely adaptable, and downright delicious. Balancing smoky, seared wild game with a delectable jam made from ripe prickly pear fruit, it’s a recipe you’ll return to all summer long.
Now an internationally recognized chef and outdoor cooking pro, Sarah grew up in Tasmania, where the wildness of the outdoors blended into daily life: Along with her brothers, she surfed, explored nature, and hunted at her uncle’s farm. Later, her outdoorsy upbringing merged with her passion for food, and local, sustainable fare became the backbone of her cooking. She became curious about harvesting her own meats, and discovered a new appreciation for the hunting experiences of her childhood.
“I'm quite passionate about using wild game meat,” Sarah says, “particularly venison from axis and fallow deer that are non-native and quite invasive in a lot of countries. I think it’s really great when people have an opportunity to use that protein.”
Since these skewers favor a quick sear, it’s best to use a quality cut of meat: Sarah recommends a venison backstrap, but if you don’t have any game meat in the freezer, pork and beef can work well – think a ribeye or filet.
Perfectly Prepared Prickly Pears
Using what’s readily available is a theme that runs throughout all of Sarah’s cooking, and the prickly pear is ubiquitous in many parts of the world. Sarah remembers her first time picking the spiky fruit from a truly enormous cactus on the side of the road in a remote part of New South Wales, and has since used it plenty in the US, too.
The distinctive cactus is widely distributed in sandy, dry environments, and while it isn’t incredibly common in American cuisine, it has been a dietary staple in Mexico and central America for thousands of years.
When they’re ripe, prickly pear fruits turn a deep red color, usually towards the end of summer – although some varieties are yellow or even green when ripe. And while the plant’s spikes are nothing to be intimidated by, “you’ll definitely want a good set of gloves and some tongs,” Sarah says.
The prickles on the ripe fruit can be burned off, and then the outer skin must be peeled away to get at the flesh inside. The flavor is mellow and not very sugary, so for a jam, you’ll need to add some sugar. The many black seeds can be strained away after boiling it down.
Load up the Barbecue
These skewers are great for family meals, Sarah says. “It's a good recipe to give the kids a go at trying, because it's approachable and easy, and they can skewer the meat,” Sarah says. And of course, any veggies you have on hand can add some extra color and extra flavor, too.
So prep the glaze, load up your skewers, and grab your friends: best served fresh off the grill, the recipe pairs well with slow summer evenings, camp table card games, and fresh air.
Sarah Glover’s Prickly Pear Glazed Steak Skewers
- 1 cup (150 g) diced peeled prickly pear
- ¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- ½ cup (100 g) raw sugar
- 1 pound (450 g) venison back strap
- Sea salt
How to Make:
- Place the prickly pear, lemon juice, chili flakes, sugar and ½ cup (125 ml) of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for about 1 hour, until you have a runny jam consistency. To check if the jam is ready, place a little jam on the back of a metal spoon and run your finger through the middle. If the jam doesn’t fill the space left behind by your finger, it is ready. If not, cook for a little longer and test again. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, soak 8 to 10 skewers or foraged sticks in water for about 30 minutes. Heat a charcoal or gas grill until very hot.
- Thinly slice the venison, then toss to coat in the cooled jam. Tightly thread the venison onto the prepared skewers or foraged sticks, so they resemble kebabs.
- Place the skewers on the grill, season with salt, and cook, turning frequently, for about 6 minutes, until charred and sticky.
- Serve immediately.
Curious what’s behind Sarah’s creations? See Sarah’s favorite gear from Dometic, including powered coolers that keep meat and produce fresh with no ice – in Sarah’s words: “game-changing.”
Love the recipe? Find even more outdoor cooking inspiration in Sarah’s cookbooks, including Wild Adventure Cookbook, Wild Child, and her latest, Open Skies Cookbook: A Wild American Road Trip.