The 5 Things You Should Know About Cooking Venison

February 4, 2014 | By | Comments (11)

Stacy & Milly pounding copyDeer-hunting season is wrapping up, so your freezer should be filling up with venison. Now is time to plan meals that call for the season’s best red meat and learn how to cook with venison.

When prepared correctly, venison’s flavor, texture, and health benefits surpass any other red meat. Venison is lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in Vitamin B6, B12, and Omega 3 fatty acids, too. I cook it five nights a week, along with heirloom produce from our garden, for my husband and our seven children. As the author of three field-to-table cookbooks and the website, my passion is sharing recipes and tips for how to cook venison and for harvesting and preparing other foods from the field, garden, and the chicken coop.

Here are the five things every cook should know about how to cook venison:

1. Don’t overcook it. The number one mistake people make when preparing venison is that they overcook it, rendering the meat rubbery and gamey. Tender cuts of venison should be served rare or medium rare unless you are braising it or mixing it with pork to add more fat.

2. Match the cut of meat to the cooking method for the most tender results. Naturally tender cuts like loins and tenderloin take well to high heat grilling, pan searing, or stuffing and trussing and should be served rare to medium rare. Here’s my recipe for how to cook Chili Cocoa Crusted Venison Loin.

Tougher muscles from the shoulder, shank or neck should be braised or stewed slow and low. Try this soup with lentils, venison, and sausage.

The hindquarter cut is incredibly versatile and can be cut into steaks, tenderized, and cooked just like the loin; cut into cubes for low and slow method; use it in sauces; cut into strips across the grain and used in salads, fajitas, burritos, or on sandwiches. I also cut the hindquarter into 1-inchthick steaks, pound them, bread and pan-fry them to make Parmesan Venison, Country Fried Steak or Venison Scaloppine.

IMG_7893 big  copy

Venison Scaloppine

3. Venison is not corn-fed beef. Don’t substitute it in beef recipes. Deer have less fat and marbling than corn-fed beef. The upside is flavor; deer forage on grass, herbs, acorns, among other plants, while cattle eat a corn and grain-based diet. This depth of flavor is why many of the top restaurants charge such high prices for venison on their menus.

4. Use dry rubs and marinades. Most of my dry rubs contain salt and also coffee or ginger, which break down the enzymes in the meat, tenderizing it without making it mushy like some of the other tenderizers do. Marinades rely on acids such as wine, vinegar, or lemon or lime juice to denature the proteins. I marinate in a zip top bag for easy clean up.

5. How to age your venison. If you are using a processor to process your deer meat, he or she has probably already aged the meat for you. Ask them about their methods. At home, I prefer dry aging venison before freezing it. To dry age, refrigerate the meat on a rack set over a pan at steady temperature of 34 to 37 degrees for at least seven days and up to 14 days. To wet age, thaw the meat in the refrigerator in its vacuum-sealed packaging, and refrigerate it for up to 14 days in the refrigerator.

Stacy Pilgreen-Harris is the author of the blog Game and Garden and three books including Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living


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  2. Outdoor Links and a Little Hunting! | The Hunting Game

    […] Things you should know about Cooking Venison! Interesting and informative. I can’t tell you how many times I have over cooked my […]

    February 8, 2014 at 6:37 am
  3. Cheryl

    Stacy, These are perfect tips for someone (like me) that is learning to cook venison. I enjoy eating this leaner meat. I am going to try a dry rub on my next venison meal. Thank you!

    February 6, 2014 at 10:32 am
  4. Elton Carroll

    I like the information and talk,recipes,and
    would like to contiuning to see this page.
    Thank you

    February 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm
  5. Rich Roberts

    Great Article!! Everything you need to know!

    February 4, 2014 at 6:16 pm
  6. Phil

    Wow, great tips that, as a life long deer hunter, even I didn’t know…Thank you for the great article Ma’am, looking forward to seeing more of what you have to offer!!

    February 4, 2014 at 5:11 pm
  7. Marz

    Wow great article! Good information.

    February 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm
  8. Stacy Harris in Southern Living

    […] am so excited to have written for Southern Living. I hope I was able to inspire my Southern (and Northern) friends to eat from their own harvest or […]

    February 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm
  9. Jonathan

    Great article!

    February 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm
  10. andrew kratz

    Great article. I wish it was dinner time already!

    February 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm
  11. Paula Johnson

    Very interesting article. You should do more of these articles as so many people hunt. There are so many dollars spent in the south, and nationally, in the outdoors arena, that we need more information on ways to use this type of food.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm

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