Hickory Smoked Venison Backstrap with Traeger’s Roasted Root Vegetables


I am bringing you a very special recipe this week after receiving many requests for a wild game recipe. I teamed up with my friend and co-writer Tim Montana of the band Tim Montana and the Shrednecks. You may have seen him and his band on the road with Kid Rock or ZZ Top or seen them on TV’s Fox and Friends or maybe you have heard his new single “Hillbilly Rich” on Sirius XM’s The Highway. The video for “Hillbilly Rich” by Tim Montana and The Shrednecks is also now on CMT!

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“Hillbilly Rich” music video on CMT

Tim is a husband, a father of 3, an avid hunter, country rock star, songwriter and a dang good cook! He is also a close friend of the fine folks at Traeger Smoker Grills and they are going to help us out this week!

I told Tim that we are big on using a smoker and/or grill when we cook with the rest of the cast of  I Love Kellie Pickler for Hillbilly Supper Club. We hope to do a lot more in the future with the awesome Traeger Smoker Grill.

Recently, Tim invited my wife, Andi and me over to write songs and cook some venison on his Traeger Smoker. It was a heck of a lunch.
Tim harvests and processes his deer himself. Here’s the recipe… Enjoy!




4 Venison backstrap steaks (about 6 oz each)
2 cups Whole Milk
1/8 cup of Extra VirginOlive Oil
Lawry’s Garlic Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Soak deer meat in whole milk in air tight container over night. This will rid the meat of any gaminess that it may have.

Place venison on a cookie sheet and coat lightly with olive oil. Then apply an almost generous portion of garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper. Simple goodness.

Prepare smoker with hickory wood and bring to a steady 350 degrees. Here we use the  Traeger Smoker Grill. You can explore cooking methods on their website at www.traegergrills.com .


Once your smoker is at 350 degrees, place meat directly on grate and close lid.
After 8 minutes, turn meat and smoke for another 8 minutes or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 to 150 for medium rare with a meat thermometer.
It is important not to overcook venison as it is a very lean meat and will dry out easily.

We recommend removing the meat at medium rare as it will still be hot and continue to cook a bit after taking it off the heat. Re internal temperature of meat… be aware of food safety recommendations and use your own judgement.


Remove from heat and let rest… Slice across the grain in thin slices at a slight angle and cover loosely with foil or keep in 150 – 170 degree oven until ready to serve with root vegetables.


Traeger Roasted Root Vegetables



Follow Recipe here: http://www.traegergrills.com/recipes/vegetables/roasted-root-vegetables

Prepare Traeger Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe and serve with Venison!


Don’t forget the honey! It is so good over the vegetables This whole meal is delicious, lean and healthy and even easy on the carbs.

Tim Montana and Ken Johnson sippin’ some Big Sky Brew

We recommend pairing with an ice cold glass of Moose Drool or Big Sky IPA from Big Sky Brewing Company while watching the new Tim Montana and The Shrednecks video for “Hillbilly Rich” on CMT!

Writing songs in Nashville… Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Ken Johnson and Tim Montana



© Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2017

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA (Indian Butter Chicken)


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My wife is from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia Canada. We go there at least twice a year to visit her family. There is a large East Indian population throughout the area and Indian food is very popular. One of our first stops every trip is a place simply named, Best of India. For many years the owner,  Jaswinder “Jas” Sidhu and his wife, Mandeep have run this small restaurant. They are wonderful people from the Indian province of Punjab and they make the best Tikka Masala (Butter Chicken) we have had anywhere. We have been stopping by for lunch year after year and year after year I have asked Jas to teach me how to make this dish. Time and time again he has just smiled, patted me on the shoulder and said “It’s a secret recipe”… I would go home and try to make it by guessing with no success. However, this year, he actually finally said, “ok Ken… you come tomorrow and I will teach you”. My wife, Andi and I went the next day and spent the afternoon in his kitchen at the restaurant cooking and learning. He did not just hand me the recipe but I took notes the best I could and this is the result. He shared with us the purpose of each ingredient as he sees them as “medicine for the body”. Some of the spices, he believes, offer great health benefits from boosting the immune system to anti inflammatory to blood flow. Some of the ingredients were foreign to me but I found them easy to get online and worth discovering. I hope you will enjoy this cooking process and this delicious recipe! Pairs very well with a fruit forward white wine with a dry finish.

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Cooking oil (canola, corn or vegetable)

Chopped Garlic (2 tablespoons)

Chopped Ginger – no need to peel (2 Tablespoons very finely chopped)

1 medium chopped Onion

1 Green Chili pepper seeded and chopped… (leave seeds in for spicier dish)

1 tablepoon ground tumeric

1/2 teaspoon Whole Coriander (crushed to open up flavor)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon black mustard seed

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 bay leaves (remove before serving)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 lb of cubed chicken breast (cut into 2×2 inch cubes)

14 oz tomato sauce

1 cup whole buttermilk

2 pinch of dried methi fenugreek leaves

1 teaspoon ground malathi powder

i teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach

1 tablespoon ground red chili paste

1/2 cup ground cashew (crushed in ziplock bag with mallet works well)

1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice cooked according to directions. (Stir in 1 tbsp butter, 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp salt before cooking… set aside and keep warm)

Naan Bread (Just before serving dinner toast in oven directly on rack 6 minutes on 400)

Have all ingredients pre chopped / measured etc and right in front of you so that you have them ready quickly when you need them.

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Boil chicken cubes in 3 quarts of salted water for 8 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.


In a small sauce pot heat 1 tbsp of oil and add tomato sauce… Stir and keep on low heat until needed…


Heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium high heat in skillet

Saute chopped onion for 3 minutes then add half of your garlic, ginger and green chili (set aside other half of each for later in process)

Stir then add:

1 tbsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp black mustard seed

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 bay leaf

Stir to blend ingredients in skillet…


crush 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander between hands in a circular motion and add to pot…

Stir then add:

Cooked chicken

1/3 of the warm tomato sauce

1/2 of the whole buttermilk

Reduce heat to medium…

Stir then add:

dried fenugreek leaves

1/2 tsp malathi powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp Salt

Stir then add:

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

half of chopped baby spinach

Stir then add:

(equal amounts as before of)




Tomato Sauce

Stir then add:

ground red chili paste

1/2 cup finely ground cashews

1/4 cup more of water

rest of tomato sauce

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Taste to see if you need more flavor… add salt pepper turmeric and ground coriander to adjust…

If you like spicy food you may want to add more heat (red chili paste).

Stir together well and simmer on low heat…

Serve over basmati rice seasoned w salt, turmeric and butter…

Top with fresh chopped cilantro and baby spinach.



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Best of India’s Tikka Masala Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice and Naan Bread
Best Of India in OLIVER, B.C. CANADA

© Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2017

“Family Style” Hillbilly Supper Club Featuring Grayton Beach Catering

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This week I am excited to bring you some very special recipes from the very special folks at Grayton Beach Catering in Grayton Beach Florida. Owners Donald Reeder and his mother Cheri Peebles recently hosted a fantastic dinner party where they prepared some of their favorite dishes.  My wife, Andi and I were fortunate enough to attend and we brought our buddy Kyle Jacobs along with us. It was a fantastic night at a table full of fellowship with great friends and family as well as amazing cuisine. All of the food was presented “family style” on large platters and passed around the table to share. I thought I would share with you and hopefully inspire a family style Hillbilly Supper Club of your own!

– Ken


Scallop BLT
Serves 10, 2 per person.

3 slices of smoked bacon
4 heirloom tomatoes sliced
½ cup arugula
¼ cup remoulade
1 lb. of large 10/20 scallops
seafood seasoning


Roast bacon to medium, not crispy.
Clean scallops and slice in half across the width.
Season all sides or the scallops with seafood seasoning.
Sear in a cast iron skillet

Top one scallop with bacon, arugula and remoulade. Place a second scallop on top and finish with a small skewer to hold it all together.

Tenderloin Crostini
Serves 10, 3 per person.

2 8 oz. beef tenderloin filets
8 oz. horseradish cream sauce
8 oz. onion and red pepper marmalade
½ cup arugula
1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
30 crostini

Season steak with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. 
Allow it to rest until steak has come to room temperature.
Grill on high until medium rare. Let rest. Slice in thin strips.
Top crostini with arugula, thinly sliced steak, onion and red pepper marmalade, finish with horseradish cream sauce…. Then put it in your mouth.

Horseradish Cream Sauce
1/3 cup horseradish (may be adjusted to taste)
1 cup sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
splash of Sriracha
splash of Worcestershire

Mix all ingredients together and chill for 2 hours.
Yellow Onion and Red Pepper Marmalade
2 large yellow onions, diced medium
4 large red bell peppers, seeded and diced medium
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbs. red pepper flakes (may adjust to taste)
olive oil

In a large skillet heat oil. Sauté onions and peppers until tender. Add red pepper flakes and sauté for an additional two minutes. Deglaze the pan with vinegar. Add brown sugar. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the liquid reduces. May be served warm or cold.

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Shrimp and Grits 
Serves 10
1 recipe gouda grits
1 recipe grilled shrimp
3 green onions, diced for garnish
1 tomato, diced for garnish

Gouda Grits

2 cups stone ground yellow grits (must be stone ground not instant)
2 cups smoked gouda, shredded
4 cups heavy cream
6+ cups cold water
Salt and white pepper to taste. Season throughout cooking process.

In a larger saucepan, bring heavy cream and four cups of cold water to a boil. Whisk in grits. Continually stir with a whisk until the grits begin to thicken. Once grits begin to thicken, reduce heat to a simmer. Slowly add two cups of cold water. Stir continuously so grits do not to stick to the bottom of the pot. Simmer on low for at least one hour, stir frequently and add cold water as needed to maintain consistency. In the last ten minutes of cooking, add shredded smoked Gouda. Once cheese is incorporated, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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2 ½ lbs. jumbo Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined.
Stinky’s seafood seasoning
 2 tbs. olive oil
Season shrimp with Stinky’s seafood seasoning to taste. Sauté in olive oil until fully cooked.

Place grits in a bowl. Top with shrimp and garnish with green onion and diced tomato.

See more on cherry season with Kellie and Kyle at www.thechampagnegarden.com

Every July it is cherry picking season where my wife is from in The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia Canada. We try to go every year if we can to help her parents and enjoy the festivities. This year we took Kellie Pickler and Kyle Jacobs with us and had a great time at the harvest. We picked a ton of cherries and then canned them. We asked Donald and Richard at Grayton Beach Catering to use some of the cherries in a recipe and this is what they came up with. It was delicious!

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Smoked Duck with Cherry Balsamic Glaze
Serves 10

10 – 6 oz. duck breast
2 tbs. fresh thyme
2 tbs. fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 gallon of water
6.5 oz. kosher salt
6.5 oz. brown sugar
2 lemons
1 orange
10 cloves of garlic
1 small handful of black peppercorn
2 bay leaves

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large sauce pan. Cool completely.
Place duck breast in brine and allow to rest in fridge for 24 hours.

Remove duck from brine and pat dry.
Season with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
Smoke duck at 200 to 225 degrees for 6 hours.
Check internal temperature. It should be 165 degrees. If necessary, bring to temperature in the oven.

Sear duck breast fat side down over high heat in cast iron skillet until golden brown.
Remove from heat. Rest briefly. Slice and top with cherry balsamic glaze.



Cherry Balsamic Glaze
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. shallots, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 oz. white wine
2 cups cherries, pitted and chopped
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 tbs. white sugar (optional)
1 tbs. olive oil

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté garlic and shallots until tender. Add green onions. Sauté for two minutes. Add cherries. Sauté for two minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Allow alcohol to cook off. Add balsamic vinegar. Stirring periodically, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow mixture to reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Add sugar as desired to even out tartness.

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Suggested Serving
 We suggest serving the smoked duck breast with cherry balsamic glaze over risotto or your favorite starch.

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Chef Richard McCord  of Grayton Beach Catering

Creamed Collards

This recipe is great for left over collard greens. To make from scratch, we suggest using your grandma’s recipe. If she doesn’t have one, we think this own is pretty darn good.

5 lbs. chopped collards, rinsed
½ lb. of bacon (or your favorite pork product)
1 large Vidalia onion, diced large
20 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 small handful of cracked black pepper
1 qt. chicken stock
kosher salt, to taste
1/3 cup pepper vinegar
2 tbs. red pepper flakes
2 tbs. Crystal’s Hot Sauce

In a large pot, sauté and render bacon over medium high heat. Once rendered, sauté garlic, onion and black pepper until soft. Deglaze with white wine and cook for two minutes. Add collards. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir periodically. Cook for at least 2 hours. The longer they cook, the better they are.

Cream Sauce

1 qt. heavy cream
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup shredded gruyere
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
2 cups bread crumbs

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In a saucepan over medium heat bring cream to a boil. Simmer and reduce by 1/3
Add garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese until incorporated. Remove from heat.

Drain collards and remove as much of the pot liquor as possible.
Add cream sauce to the collard greens.
Place in a casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs.
Bake at 325 until bubbly and delicious.


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Sweet Heat Peach Cobbler

10 peaches, peeled and sliced.

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For Peaches:
½ cup cinnamon whiskey
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 ½ tbs. cornstarch
1 tbs. bacon fat (omit from marinade)

Mix ingredients together. Coat peaches evenly and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

For Biscuit Topping:
1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, grated cold
3/4 cup heavy cream

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. With a pastry cutter or fork, cut in cold grated butter until mixture is course. Fold in heavy cream. Mix until a dough ball forms. Do not over mix as it will create a dense topping.

In a 12-inch cast iron pan, heat 1 tbs. of bacon fat. Sauté peaches with their marinade for 5 to 10 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Cover peaches in topping. We recommend placing one spoonful of biscuit dough at a time, leaving space between each drop biscuit.

Brush with heavy cream and dust with white sugar. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes until golden brown.

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I hope you enjoy trying some of these recipes from my post this week!

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Chef Richard McCord and Chef/Owner Donald Reeder from Grayton Beach Catering with Kyle Jacobs and Ken Johnson


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Owner Cheri Peebles from Grayton Beach Catering with Andi Zack-Johnson and Ken Johnson
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Laughing with friends Annie & Brandon


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© Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2017

All photos by Shelly Swanger Photography

THE B-4 BURGER (Bison, Barbecue Sauce, Blue Cheese and Bacon)


“B-4” you decide on another traditional cheeseburger… Try this Hillbilly Supper Club favorite!

What you’ll need…

Fresh ground Bison (1/3 lb per person)
Bacon (1 slice per burger)
Bbq Sauce
Crumbled blue cheese (2 tbsp per burger)
1 large sweet Onion (sliced)
Brioche or bakery made buns
garlic salt
Worcestershire sauce

For a vegetarian option try eliminating bacon and grilling a portobello mushroom cap instead…
Marinate mushroom first in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce and 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar.


Prepare grill to medium high heat…


In a skillet… fry bacon. When done, remove bacon and set aside on paper towel. Discard grease but do not wipe out skillet yet. There will still be enough fat to saute onions in.

Saute sliced onions over medium heat in small amount of bacon fat stirring frequently until onions become caramelized.
Remove from heat and set aside.

Gently form bison meat into 5 to 6 oz patties.
With your thumbs, form an indention in the center.
When you cook a burger it tends to swell in the middle. If you form an indention in the center it will swell to normal instead of becoming a meatball.


Add a splash or two of worcestershire sauce to each burger.
Then sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. (about 1/3 of a tsp of each per burger)


Hint:  Let meat sit a short while so it is not cold when it hits the grill. (it will cook more evenly)

Place burgers on grill and cook about 5 minutes per side or to desired temp then add crumbled blue cheese. Place on a plate loosely covered with foil or in a 175 degree oven to keep warm.
I prefer to cook fresh ground bison to medium which is an internal temp of about 145 degrees but food safety guidelines suggest ground meats should be cooked to 160 degrees. Just FYI. It’s your call.

Preheat broiler in oven to high.
Slice buns in half horizontally and butter both sides. Place under broiler for 1 or 2 minutes until toasted golden brown. Only toast inside of bun. Do not flip.
The inside will be toasted and the outside of the bun will still be soft.

Place a tablespoon or two of barbecue sauce on each bottom bun then add grilled bison burger with blue cheese…
Top with caramelized onions and bacon, top bun and enjoy!

In this recipe we used Stubbs Barbecue Sauce, one of our favorites from Austin Texas.


© Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2017