Deer for Dinner
If you have followed Two Dog Outdoors for any time, you know we love to hunt and fish. The more successful we are, the closer the freezers gets to capacity. This year, Philip was able to harvest two deer, a buck and a doe, so we had a plethora of red meat to eat.
Eating what we kill not only means a lower grocery bill, but can also be a healthier choice of meat as compared to beef. Venison has less than a third of the saturated fat than beef and also contains a third of the cholesterol. Venison is also higher in vitamins and minerals such as iron, B6, and riboflavin and contains all the essential amino acids needed for a healthy diet.
Since venison is lower in fat and has less marbling than beef, it can be a less forgiving meat to cook. Venison only needs to reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees when cooked, and 150 degrees is considered very well done. Most of the time, especially with smaller cuts, searing the venison and letting it rest for ten minutes under tin foil will bring it to temperature. I have also started tenderizing the venison with a meat mallet before cooking, which has also made a big difference in the chewiness of the meat.
This year, we ate so many ground venison tacos and hamburgers that we ran out of ground meat pretty quickly, and I was left scouring the internet for resources. One book I highly recommend is Harvest Cookbook by Stacy Lyn Harris. This book covers many wild game recipes such as pheasant, quail, and duck and also has fresh garden recipes such as sweet potato soup and tomato pie. I have loved every recipe that I have made and they have all turned out delicious, which is not due to my cooking ability!
We have two recipes that are our family’s favorites. The first is the Venison Burrito Supreme. I love this recipe for weeknights because it’s quick and easy and really tasty. The venison hindquarter is seasoned with salt and pepper and seared, then combined with black beans and a fresh Pico de Gallo to make a fantastic burrito. The kids request this recipe frequently.
The second recipe we love is the Chili Cocoa Crusted Venison with a Berry Reduction. This dish has a beautiful presentation and is a great way to cook venison in the summer when the blackberries and blueberries are in season. For this recipe, Stacy starts with a rub on the loin that includes brown sugar, coffee, cinnamon, and cocoa (it’s fantastic). She then sears and cooks the tenderloin, then tops it with the berry reduction of blackberries, blueberries, and red wine. This recipe leaves me wishing we had more tenderloins to cook because I can never get enough!
Some hunters don’t enjoy cooking their own meat, but do enjoy the thrill of the hunt. For those in this category, I urge you to check out an organization called Hunters and Landowners for the Hungry(SCHLH). This organization has approved processors across the state that hunters can elect to donate part or all of their deer or wild boar. This organization will pick up the meat from the approved processor and distribute it to one of 39 nonprofit organizations who help feed over 15,000 people in South Carolina annually. Since 2004, SCHLH has provided over 500,000 pounds of meat to nonprofits and needy families based in SC. For more information or to donate, check out their website www.schuntersforthehungry.com.
Venison can be tricky to cook, but for me, it’s trickier getting them in range. Thankfully, we have Philip to keep our freezer stocked. Thanks for reading and please post your favorite venison recipe, we always can use more!~Corey