We’ve talked about roasting venison before – so you know it’s not my FAVORITE cooking method. The main reason why, is that I’ve never been a huge roast fan, whether it’s beef, pork, or venison. What I’ve come to realize over the years, is that a roast is less about the meat itself, and more about how you dress the finished product: au jus, gravy, horseradish, etc.
I hate cooking roast venison (or even beef for that matter). As a roast in the oven that is. I always overcook them. Or they end up as flavorless blobs of meat. I know, that’s why gravy was invented. It’s really a matter of more practice, but you know how it goes – if something doesn’t come easy, you resist it and fall back to what you KNOW will work (ie: can do easily and not have to actually LEARN). I’ve been hearing more and more about cooking using a method called “sous vide”. It seemed to be a promising way to consistently cook a steak or roast to the perfect temperature. Easily. SIGN. ME. UP.
I’ll admit, I get a little obsessive sometimes when it comes to fully utilizing my deer. I hate to see anything go to “waste”. I quote “waste” since technically my wild feathered and furred friends will get anything that I don’t personally use. But still, I get a little angst anytime some part doesn’t make it into my cooler for the trip home. When it comes to the bones, I at LEAST come home with all the leg bones and the ribs. The ribs we’ll cover another time, but the leg bones will be used to make make a hearty venison/vegetable stock that will then get used in many other recipes.
Deer fat. It doesn’t taste particularly good. To us humans anyway. Yet some deer will have a lot. I’ve pulled almost 20 pounds of almost pure fat off a large deer that seemed to be bulking up for a rough winter.
I know, I had you at “chicken fried”.
Chicken fry anything, and what’s not to like? Chicken fry some venison loins, and you can convert anyone into a wild game eater.
This is a pretty easy recipe. And there are a few ways you can do it. You could fry these up in a pan, no problem (I like cast iron). I like the ease and consistency you get with a little countertop fryer. NOTE: don’t EVER use the fryer on the countertop, in the kitchen. Unless you really like the smell of fryer oil lingering in your house for a few weeks that is. A lesson I learned the hard way..
When field dressing a deer, you are going to need to make some important decisions: what parts to take, and what to leave behind. Hunters can debate for hours over what they think is worthwhile, but I think many will agree, you MUST take the heart and the liver. Here, we’ll focus on the heart.
Fat. Venison doesn’t have much. That causes one of the main challenges to cooking it. Go too far and it will just be dry and tough.
Many times, cooks (or processors) will add fat to venison. Has anyone ever told you about their amazing backstrap recipe, where they wrapped everything in bacon? Well, I would argue that is more of an amazing bacon recipe, and the steak was probably overcooked. Same thing for sausages and hot dogs. I’ve heard people tell me time and again how great venison hot dogs are. What I don’t think they know is that their “venison” dog is probably at least 50% ground pork. Same goes for any venison sausage.
I have been a fan of corning venison for years. I love the flavor, and I love the options braising it and smoking it. Another reason to corn venison is if you have some gamey meat. If you shot a buck that had a little funk, there is no better way to remove gaminess. And believe me, I’ve tried pretty much every way imaginable.
Some people may think I’m crazy. Heck, some people KNOW I’m crazy. But venison shanks are one of my favorite cuts of meat from my deer. There are basically three ways to process them:
- Get as much meat off of them as you can and put it in the grinder.
- Slow cook them whole.
- Slow cook them cut up into little disks.
Grinding them is a waste of time, unless you also grind all the tendons too. But who wants that in their burger or sausage? By the time you separate the meat out from everything else, you’ve lost a lot of time for a little meat.
It’s springtime! We’re at the halfway point to when deer season opens up for another year. How’s your freezer looking? No more backstraps? Getting low on roasts? Have you even touched any of your ground venison yet? Don’t wait! You don’t want to get to the point where you are stuck with just one kind of meat. Sure there are lots of ground meat recipes, but here are some reasons I like to use my ground meat sooner rather than later:
- I don’t actually grind my venison before I freeze it – but what I usually dedicate to the grinder are the small scraps. The bits I was able to glean off the bone, or the parts that maybe I over trimmed a bit from the roasts… The point is that they are small bits of meat. Smaller pieces expose more surface area to air. This increases the potential for spoilage over time. Before it was froze, that area was all exposed to air and the cutting board – and potential microscopic nasties. In the freezer, the same extra surface area increases the possibility of freezer burn. Of course, properly handled and wrapped meat can last years in the freezer – but by it’s nature, ground meat has the highest risk of going bad the quickest – so use it up!
- I like variety in my cooking. While the loins might be my favorite cut, I’d rather have them less often so I can enjoy them throughout the year and not just the first month after deer season. So, break out the ground meat early on, so you can enjoy those choice cuts later on.
- You never truly run out of ground meat. If you have a grinder, and you have any cut of meat, you have ground meat. So use that trim meat as early as possible. That gives it the least time to spoil and since it’s the lowest quality meat, enjoy it at it’s best. Once it’s gone, you can always grind a higher quality roast – and you will be rewarded with a higher quality meal!
Here’s a meatball recipe to help you use that trim meat up. Don’t ever let your venison meals be boring and lacking flavor. This recipe is easy, it’s quick, and it’s TASTY.
- 1 lb of ground venison
- ½ cup of panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup of thinly diced green onions
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, or ¼ teaspoon of ground dried ginger
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- ½ cup of hoisin sauce (found in the asian section of grocery store)
- 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, or ½ teaspoon of ground dried ginger
Heat the oven to 400°.
Set aside some of the green onions to garnish the meatballs after they are cooked. Combine the rest of the onions and all of the meatball ingredients except the sesame seeds (also for garnish) in a large bowl and mix well. Roll into roughly 1″ meatballs and place on a greased baking sheet, and pop them in the oven.
Cook for about 10-12 minutes – or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
While the meatballs cook, combine all the sauce ingredients and thoroughly mix.
When the meatballs are done, remove from the oven, and dollop the sauce on each meatball. Sprinkle the rest of the green onions and some sesame seeds over the top, and serve. Make up some wonton soup to go with them – you’ll use even more of your ground meat and it’s a great pairing!