I've been up since before sunrise cutting up a deer and processing the meat for freezing. This photo shows how it looked out on my deck by late morning.
I'm betting the unemployed are going to be out hunting in record numbers this fall. If you're interested and have never done it, it's probably too late in the year to get a hunter safety course under your belt, buy a license, and learn all you'll need to know. What you can do this year, however, is to offer to help someone else cut up their deer. It takes skill and time and good knives of the proper type. And a place where you can make a mess and not risk offending the neighbors.
What you see in the stainless bowls is set for final washing, processing and packaging. There's probably around 35 pounds of ready-to-eat venison. All bones, fat, and gristly bits are left behind. The top-most bowl has roasts. The bowl on the left has steak. The third, on the right, holds small trimmings that will go into chile and meatballs.All of these cuts are much cleaner than the US$25 per pound New Zealand venison commonly imported to the USA. On that cost basis, my small eight-pointer produced over $800 worth of high grade, free-range meat. A larger deer would probably produce 45 to 50 pounds, for which you'd have to spend up to a thousand dollars to obtain, using the same price basis.
Chile meat scraps and some steak for freezing.
Here's my lunch.
All done now so it's on to flank steak fried with garlic and black pepper and salt. I will have it with the brown rice vegetable curry leftover from a few days ago. I made more than I needed for myself because my black lab -- ever patiently waiting on the deck -- is getting the little piece as a reward for not running off with anything.
Aside from Bambi-driven phobia or vegetarianism, the main reason people will say they don't prefer venison is that they were once served an over-cooked portion that probably also contained melted tallow which when eaten hardens on the roof of the mouth -- an unnecessarily bad experience unless you're on some sort of Man vs Wild trip.
So here they are, my 6 rules for a good venison dish.
Rule #1: Never ever eat venison with fat or 'tallow' on it. Tallow was once used for making crude stinky candles and it is no good at all for eating. You must cut all visible fat off before cooking or it will ruin the experience. Once you experience fat-free venison you'll never again pay a butcher to cut up a deer.
Rule #2: Venison cooks very fast -- much more rapidly than any commercially sold red meat -- and really should be consumed rare or medium rare. If you go well done it will get tough and lose the flavor. If you don't like eating rare red meat don't shoot a deer, and certainly don't order it in a restaurant.
Rule #3: Go easy on portion size. Venison is a rich and intensely flavorful meat when properly processed and cooked. You don't need a lot.
Rule #4: Fry the steaks in onions and serve with multiple vegetable side dishes, bread, and dry red wine. Or, cook on a very, very hot grill -- briefly.
Rule #5: Roasts should be prepared as you would a mutton roast. A powerful curry is my favorite.
What about the 6th rule?
The sixth rule is that you can only have this treat if you are willing to spend serious time, develop new skills, and get up to your elbows in guts. A well laid-by deer offers a meal fit for a one-percenter but one that damned few of those predators will ever experience.
To all you unemployed hunters out there I say: Be safe and smile at the good things in life that only you can have.