Wild game is very lean meat -that is why it is making a comeback- and among wild game, venison is probably one of the most appreciated meats.
Hunting and Preparing Venison
You see them gracefully running through the fields and narrowly avoid the caressing kiss of a car’s bumper, but how many times have you attempted to eat a deer?
Most of us experience venison for the first time when it has been poorly handled and cooked. This results in a horrible sour, or gamey, taste. We then refuse to taste it again. But we are missing out on a wonderful source of protein, minerals and vitamins. Something that is free of antibiotics and synthetic hormones, and a better nutritional source than beef. All because of a hunter’s lack of experience in field dressing, or a cook that doesn’t understand the delicate meat.
If you are not purchasing a farm raised deer, you need to remember, or tell your hunter that the nutritional value of deer meat will deteriorate quickly if it is not handled properly from the field to the freezer. The palatability of the venison hinges on a few different factors. One study has shown that a deer’s age, how far it runs and how long the meat is cured are contributors to how tender the meat is. Young deer are more tender by nature, and require no aging, that is unless it ran a great distance between being wounded and death. This causes the deer to expend all its glycogen reserves, and when this happens, the pH levels of the meat will increase, spreading a bacterial growth. When the deer is wounded and becomes frightened, there is a release of adrenalin, the chain reaction that follows causes the deer’s muscles to be flooded with blood. This sudden rush causes a build up of metabolic waste, and this build up is one of the reasons for a strong gamey taste. To help with this, ageing is called for, though opinions differ on rather or not a stressed deer should be aged. Talk to your local processor to see how they feel.
Meat is only properly aged when it is hung in a temperature controlled room for at least ten days. This will allow the enzymes to break down those complex proteins in the meat. When done properly, aging usually improves the flavor. A professional Locker, or processor, can do this for you. And no aging of the deer should be done if you plan on grounding or chopping the meat. All fat needs to be removed from the meat. Fat reserves are another reason for the gamey taste.
Another problem with taste is that many people do not keep their meat properly frozen. Venison should be double wrapped or vacuumed sealed. If you choose to only single wrap your meat, it will only be good for 6 months, no longer. Freezer burn can result from single wrapping, this makes the meat too dry, and not to mention that freezer burn flavor.
Venison is a different type of red meat when it comes to preparing. As it is very lean, much leaner than beef, it will dry out faster. When you cook the venison, keep things moist, no matter how you prepare it. You want you chops and steaks to be cooked to a medium rare, and think about keeping a light, very hot sauce simmering nearby to be poured over the cut once it is served. This will also help with the quicker cooling that venison tends to do.
Speaking purely on a nutritional standard, many physicians and nutritional experts claim that venison can greatly help chronic conditions like food allergies, and digestive disorders. Even reversing the illnesses in some cases. Venison is 23.6% protein, has 1.4% fat, and 149 calories in a 3½ ounce steak. A serving should be no larger then a deck of playing cards.
Venison can be strewed, ground, baked, fried, grilled and jerked in a number of different ways. Be creative with your pairings, like venison steak and blueberry sauce, or play it safer and more rustic by pan searing medallions and toping them with a wild mushroom sauce, ground the steaks to make a luscious hamburger, or replace your morning pork sausage with Venison sausagesvenison sausage.
When handled properly, from field to table, venison can be a bounty of flavors and enjoyable dish of nutrition. Remember to cook it carefully, to a medium rare, remove all the fat, and have a professional process it and that gamey taste will be forgotten