Cooking Venison, the other red meat.
Farmed Venison Versus Wild Venison
Venison is a healthy choice.
Organ meats of a deer.
Preparing the Venison.
Methods used to cook venison.
Dry heat- Grilling.
Dry heat- Roasting.
Dry heat- Broiling.
Dry heat- Pan frying.
Moist heat- Braising.
Moist heat- Stewing.
Well the hunt is over and success was in the air. Now it’s time to reap the rewards. FRESH VENISON, the predominant reward for most. A highly treasured red meat, in fact Venison was once known as the ‘meat of kings’, as only royalty and favorite courtiers were permitted to own or hunt deer. Its traditional use as a cold-weather dish, often marinated and cooked over a slow heat for many hours, stems from those olden days. In Europe, those traditions remain, and venison is prized as a meat for festive occasions. In Pennsylvania, I would say any day is an occasion for venison.
Modern farmed venison is changing this tradition, allowing chefs to be more adventurous and include farm raised venison in modern cuisine. This has become big business for New Zealand. Farm raised New Zealand venison is exported worldwide; however Western Europe (including Scandinavia) is the major market for New Zealand venison exports, taking approximately 85 percent of total exports. Germany is their largest single market, as venison is an important part of traditional German autumn and winter cuisine. Other major European markets include Belgium, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. The USA is the industry's main export market outside Europe.
Farm raised venison differs somewhat from wild venison. Like beef cattle, these deer live life in a smaller controlled area where they are free of any strenuous activity, and are kept on a highly nutritious diet. Wild deer roam a larger area and eat what’s available from mother earth. They pack on more fat as well as toughen up their muscles from the added stress they encounter.
These lifestyle differences can effect your meats flavor even before you pull the trigger. Panicked deer flood their body with adrenaline when they’re in danger. Their heart races and blood pours into their muscles. The extra blood helps rev up the muscles for flight, but produces lactic and pyruvic acids in return. These acids, extra blood, and adrenaline are the major reasons venison tastes wild or gamey. That and the unpleasant flavor of venison fat. This is why you should field dress your deer as soon as possible and get rid of most of the blood. You should also remove as much fat from the venison as possible. This is fairly easy since most of it is on the outside of the deer, whereas the meat itself is pretty lean with little to no marbling. There's a layer of tallow between the muscles. This tallow must be discarded when it is being processed, because it can become rancid even when frozen. Removing all the tallow and fat during processing will eliminate the gamey taste.
Venison is a healthy choice and an alternative for other red meats. It has a finer texture and higher water content than beef. It is a low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, and a high protein meat as well as a rich source of iron. A 3-ounce serving of venison loin contains 139 calories, 62 grams of cholesterol and 5 grams of fat. A comparable cut of beef has 223 calories, 77 grams of cholesterol and 13 grams of fat.
The organ meats of a deer can be eaten also. Liver, heart and kidneys are best if eaten immediately while the rest of the meat is still hanging. The heart can simply be washed, sliced and fried in butter. Liver and kidneys are improved by cleaning and kneading gently in salt water to remove excess blood, then rinsed well. They are excellent if pan-fried in butter over low to medium heat. Cook to at least 160 degrees, but do not overcook.
If the meat you are planning to cook is frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees. Never thaw at room temperature, as game meat is often high in bacterial content and this would enhance bacterial growth. Once thawed it should be used within 2 days. Ground venison should be used sooner, as it spoils faster than other ground meats. If any meat is to be marinated, either to flavor or to tenderize, it should be done in the refrigerator.
Venison can sometimes be tough due to reasons mentioned earlier. But it can be tenderized by various methods. Use mild vegetable acid to tenderize. Vinegar, tomato sauce, milk, and some French dressing sauces are good for tenderizing. Cover the meat with the marinating sauces. Only marinade in the refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours. After marinating longer than 24 hours, the meats tends to get mushy. Other marinades that work well with venison are: 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar. Reduce the sugar in sauce recipes. Venison's natural flavor is sweeter than other meats, therefore, sauces developed for beef may be too sweet.
There are generally two methods used to cook venison. Dry heat-which would be grilling, roasting, broiling, and pan frying. Moist heat- which would be braising and stewing. My rule of thumb is either hot-n-fast or low-n-slow, depending on the cut. The same general cooking rules apply to most kinds of big game animals. Game meat is generally cooked the same way as a similar cut of lean beef.
The cuts best suited to grilling are the loin and rump cuts. Cuts other than the loin and rump and meat from older animals will be most flavorful and tender if they are cooked with moist heat - braising, stewing or pot roasting. When barbecuing or grilling, brush the venison on each side with a light cooking oil (or spray). Apply any spices you may desire prior to adding the meat to the grill. Try not to use salt as a seasoning as it pulls the juices out of the meat and can dry it out. Since there’s little fat and limited juices, it’s best to grill to medium rare to medium.
This is usually done with a loin or rib roast. Trim off all game fat, rub with bacon drippings or similar fat. Season with salt, pepper, and desired herbs. Place on roasting rack in uncovered pan, bone down. For added flavor, place bacon strips on top of roast. Baste with additional fat as needed, but do not add water. Roast uncovered at 300ºF. Allow 20 to 25 min/lb. Since lean game meat usually cooks faster than beef, use a meat thermometer, if possible.
This can be done with loins, steaks, or chops. Preheat the broiler. Trim all natural fat from steaks or chops. Rub meat with bacon fat, beef suet, or salt pork, and season it. Place steaks or chops on the broiler rack with the top surface 3 to 5 inches below the heat source, depending upon the thickness of cut. Leave broiler or oven door open a few inches unless range directions advise otherwise. If meat smokes or spatters, the flame or heat is too high or the meat is too close. Brown meat on each side but avoid charring.
This can also be done with loins, steaks, or chops. Partially heat a heavy frying pan. Rub the medium hot pan with bacon fat or lard works great, as it gets hotter than most other oils. Season as desired. You can even roll in flour or cornstarch at this point. Cook meat quickly over high heat. Cooking time varies with thickness, but if you wait till the blood rises to the top, then flip it and wait for the same to happen on this side. Then remove it and it will be medium to medium well.
This would be used for less tender cuts of meat like a chuck, round, or shoulder roast. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Rub with flour or cornstarch. Brown all sides in moderately hot fat or lard. Add a small amount of water (about 2/3 cup). Cover tightly. Cook very slowly (simmer) until tender (2 to 3 hours). Turn the meat occasionally, adding water, if necessary. The remaining drippings could be used to make gravy with.
Again, this method would be for less tender cuts like the shank or neck meat. Cut the meat into one inch cubes. Sprinkle with flour and season. Brown on all sides in medium hot fat or lard. Cover meat with boiling water. Cover kettle tightly. Simmer until tender (about 2 to 3 hours). Do not boil! Add vegetables just long enough before serving time so they will be tender.
When cooking ground venison, because venison is so lean, some people add a binding ingredient to ground venison for meatloaf or burgers. Ground pork or pork sausage adds flavor; bread, oatmeal, eggs or a grated potato also will help hold the meat together. Onion also helps to add flavor, and season well.
This completes the hunting cycle. Nowadays we hunt mostly for sport and recreation, but once we lived off the land. It puts us in closer touch with our traditional values and heritage. Venison is a great alternative to beef and a healthier one as well. It’s GOOD eatin’!
By Pro-Staff Member: renegade
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