There are easily as many venison recipes as there are for beef and indeed many beef recipes were actually converted from recipes designed for wild meats such as venison. This stands to reason, since venison not only has a richer, fuller flavor, but it has the same cuts of meat; steak, roast, ribs, ground and so on. Deer are just normally much smaller.
A good-sized buck will dress out at usually less than 200 pounds, though a few get a little larger. Some species rarely get much over 100 pounds.
The methods of cooking are as varied as with beef, too. Deer meat can be fried, baked, broiled, barbecued, braised, steamed, boiled, grilled, or even pit baked. It also makes dried meat and jerky even more readily than beef, partly owing to the fact that deer tends to be leaner, since it is wild. Beef is often raised to purposely put on weight quickly, which means more fat within the muscles. While marbling is desired for beef, it is not for venison.
Many people have favorite recipes, based in part on what cut of meat is being cooked. An important factor actually comes into play long before cooking; proper aging and treatment of the meat. If this isn’t done correctly, venison will usually have a gamy taste regardless of how it is prepared. If done correctly, the meat will have such a good flavor that it becomes almost difficult to cook it wrong.
The following are only a few of the great recipes, out of many hundreds.
The backstrap is an oval or circular piece of meat that lies on each side of the backbone, and near the upper part of the ribs. Both pieces of meat run the full length of the deer, but are about three inches in diameter, depending on the size of the deer.
Gristle and fat is practically absent, and the cut of meat tends to be naturally tender even in older deer. For backstrap steaks, the meat is cut into steaks across the grain so that you end up with many three-inch steaks about one inch in thickness.
The steaks are dredged liberally in flour until well covered, and then cooked in medium hot grease on the stove, sprinkling with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Covering the fry pan helps retain some of the flavor that can be lost during cooking. The lid also helps keep the meat moist. Cook until it is cooked as done as you want it. As a tip, since deer is wild, it should be cooked more than corresponding cuts of beef. Unlike beef, it doesn’t normally lose flavor when doing this.
Fried backstrap is superb when served with fried mushrooms and fried onions.
Many people feel that this stew puts the best beef stew totally to shame. It is usually made with small pieces of venison, smaller than, to just over bite-sized, and well-trimmed. Two pounds of venison stew meat can make a large pot of venison stew.
To make it, put the meat in a good sized pot. Add diced carrots, potatoes, onions, corn, mushrooms and green beans, then cover with water until the pot is about 3/4 full. Sprinkle well with salt, garlic powder, pepper, oregano, sage and basil and then put over medium heat. Cook until the vegetables are tender, adding water if needed. For thicker soup, fill a clean quart jar half full of cold water, add a couple tablespoons of flour or arrowroot, cap and shake until smoothly blended, then add to the stew during cooking.
This is a wonderful dish all year long, but especially on the colder days of winter. There are also many variations on the stew.
Venison pot roast
As it sounds, this is made with venison roast that corresponds to beef pot or rump roast. Place the roast in a Dutch oven that has a tight fitting lid. Add an inch of water, several quartered potatoes, an onion or two that have been quartered or cut into eighths, a few cut carrots, a couple of quartered bell peppers and a can of stewed tomatoes or three to four tomatoes cut in eighths. Salt, pepper and add a couple bay leaves, cover and then cook at 350 degrees F until the vegetables are tender and slightly browned. Quite a few people feel that this is better than the best beef roast ever thought of and that it is far more tender.
These are only a few recipes. If you want meals to rave over, try venison chili, venison sausage and eggs, sweet and sour braised venison, venison steak smothered in mushrooms and homemade mushroom gravy, venison gravy over rice or venison and cabbage. Well-prepared venison has a lighter; more delicate flavor than beef and it blends very well to most vegetables. It is so good, in fact, that it is likely that if you ever eat it and don’t like it, there are probably one of three possibilities: The venison wasn’t properly processed initially, it wasn’t cooked properly or was over-cooked, or you don’t like meat.
Though a good-sized beef might weigh 500 to 1,000 pounds, there are people who would rather have an entire venison than have a full beef. Once you’ve tried it, you will see why.
(Picture by Dcrjsr)