The Best Recipe for Deer Meat (Venison)
Deer hunting in Missouri is alive and well. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, nearly 289,000 deer were harvested in 2011, a 5% increase over 2010. With plenty of venison available it’s important to make sure we’re not wasting such a valuable resource. Following are some simple and tasty venison recipe’s that make use of the many different cuts of meat available.
Let’s start with the choicest piece, the tenderloin. As the name implies, these tender morsels can be found inside the body cavity along either side of the spine at the back of the animal, and are the fillet minion of a whitetail. First, clean the outside silver skin from the tenderloin. Slice the tubular pieces of meat in thick pieces (1-1/2 inches). Wrap the outside of the tenderloin with bacon and hold together with skewers. If the tenderloins are small, it’s best to cut them in sections, curl them in a tight circle, and wrap with bacon and skewer. Season with any kind of meat seasoning (dry rubs, steak seasonings, salt, pepper, and garlic salt, etc.) or marinate in your favorite sauce (Italian dressing works well). Grill on a hot flame. Medium rare preserves the most flavor.
The backstraps can be found along the spine from behind the front shoulders to just in front of the rear haunches. These are the strips and ribeyes of the deer. You can prepare this meat as above, but here’s a great smoker recipe that works well on backstraps. Clean the backstrap of silverskin. Cut them in half or in one foot sections depending on the size. Marinate and inject with teriyaki sauce. You can buy teriyaki sauce premade (Mr. Yoshida’s is good) or you can make your own. To make your own:
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 to 1 cup sugar. Start with 3/4 cup and then add to taste.
3 squeezes of honey, about 3 tablespoons or so
Garlic Powder, 1 level teaspoon
Ginger Powder, 1 level teaspoon. If you have fresh ginger, use it instead.
1 shot of Saki – if you don’t have any Saki around a shot of whiskey or bourbon works well.
Stir until all the sugar and honey dissolves. Inject the meat and marinate at least several hours. Brush the meat with the remaining sauce when you place on the smoker rack. If you have a two rack smoker it helps to rotate the racks and turn the meat halfway through the process for even smoking. You can baste the meat again with the sauce when you swap the racks. Soak your wood pieces overnight. Use hickory, apple wood, or mesquite. Depending on the size of the meat and how full your smoker is it takes 4 to 8 hours to smoke. Let the meat cool, vaacum seal and freeze. You can thaw to room temperature, slice and eat, or warm it in the oven.
Here are two ways to use the less choice cuts found on the remainder of the deer (neck, flank, roasts, etc.) First, if you have a meat grinder you can cut these pieces in chunks and grind to hamburger consistency. Mix the meat in a bowl with jerky seasoning. This seasoning comes in different flavors and sizes to accommodate different quantities of meat. You’ll need a jerky shooter, which is a device similar to a caulk gun that discharges the meat in flat strips or small tubes. To dry the meat, use stackable jerky racks that go in the oven. Once the meat is seasoned, pack the gun and shoot the strips onto the racks. Place in the oven at 225 degrees. It’s best to pat the meat with a paper towel during the process to help remove the fat that cooks out. Cook to the consistency you like. Once you have this set-up, you don’t have to use venison. Lean ground beef makes great jerky too.
The second recipe requires a crock pot. Take a rump roast and cube it into 1-1/2 to 2″ chunks. Season it with salt and pepper and place the meat with a ¼ cup of water in the bottom of a crock pot. Set it for 8 hours. You’ll know it’s done when the meat starts to fall apart. Drain the juice and shred the meat with a fork. Pour in a bottle of KC Masterpiece or other BBQ sauce and let it heat through for another hour. Serve on buns. Try sliced onions, pickles, or cole slaw on the sandwiches. If this is still too strong a flavor for you, try mixing 50% with beef roast chunks.
These are just a few ways to turn your venison into tasty, simple dishes your friends and family will thank you for. So happy hunting and happy cooking!