Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reaping the Rewards of the Hunt

As hunting season dies down, some come away with a prize, other are left empty handed. This years hunt has seemed to be a productive one. I saw a couple of good kills one the opening day and many since. But now the guns, Nikon binoculars and orange vests are put away and you have more game meat than you know what to do with, what are you going to do?

Venison makes a great substitue for beef in almost any recipe. I have used it ground as meatballs (one of my favorite uses. The Marinara sauce really compliments the flavor of the venison). Stews are the norm and I have even used it in Hamburger Helper and Spaghetti. I have tried tacos but have not had any luck in that department. The taco seasoning seems to disagree with the flavor of the meat. Venison Enchiladas however are my husbands favorite. Here are some tips that I have used over the years to use reap the rewards of being a "Deer Widow" for a couple weekends each year.

Tip #1:

Remember that in the wild, Deer love eating fresh Bay leaves so cooking venison with bay leaves compliments the meat very well.

Tip #2:

German venison recipes often use fruits like cherries or are served with a cherry sauce. The gamy flavor goes well with certain acidic fruits.

Tip #3:

Aging will help dissipate the game taste and permit natural occurring enzymes to tenderize the tissues. Proper aging also firms the meat, giving it better cutting quality. Aging should be conducted between 32 - 35° F for 7 - 10 days. Never age at room temperature. Venison may be cut within 24 hours after the kill and still be acceptable for aging. Improper storage facilities increases risk for spoilage.

*From National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Tip #4:

When you cook Venison, make sure you cook it slowly with very moist heat as there is very little fat in the meat to keep it moist and tender. Overcooking or cooking to quickly with dry out the meat and make it very, very tough. I really enjoy wrapping in bacon as a constant baster and periodically manually basting it with bacon grease or beef broth while it is cooking. It gives it a great flavor and keeps it moist and tender.

Tip #5:

When drying I have found that Citric Acid helps to keep the smell down and take away some of the gamy flavor in the jerky.

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