Here is my confession: I am a hunter. I am not sure why that feels like a confession, considering there are more hunters in this country than people serving in the military. (Bloomberg recently listed the number of hunters for 2011 at 13.7 mil and the numbers for the military are just under 3 mil.) Still if someone were to ask me (and they do), they seem genuinely shocked that I hunt, let alone eat wild game. Seriously people? While I was raised on venison, with the self sufficiency movement in full swing, I would think that this would be more of a norm. Alas, I often in the minority.
The last few years I was either nursing a newborn or pregnant so I unable to hunt. This year was a completely different matter and I tagged a beautiful four pointer.
The issue that recently presented itself is: how do I cook it? Growing up, my father was the cook and we ate venison most days of the week. As an adult though, I cannot really remember too many different ways we ate it. We had chops pan fried, stew, BBQ venison. The rest was either unmemorable or that was it.
As I have prepared to cook venison for my family I have been scouring the blogs and cookbooks for ways to make this delicious meat. My husband is not really a fan so I want to make sure I don't bring out the gamey flavor. (As a side note, we have found the same flavor in beef and he wasn't a fan so it isn't "in his head" as others have suggested. I notice it too but don't mind it.) I have been rather disappointed in the lack of recipes out there. The staples are there but aren't there more recipes? Surely people eat it more than just in stew or slathered in BBQ sauce. Most of the recipes I find though are variation of the above, and there isn't much variation.
As this year moves forward, I am excited to try new recipes and discover new ways to cook it. Thus far, I have pan fried it in a cast iron pan with onions, garlic powder, S+P. The pan frying was excellent. Speaking of frying, in recent years my dad has been making country fried venison which I am super excited to try in the future because I absolutely adore it. If I hear my dad is making it, you can bet I am trying to weasel an invitation or I might just pop round so the kids can see them... at dinner time, wink wink.
My father saved me some of the bones so that I can make stock this week. I found this recipe from Great Venison Cooking that I am going to try as well as some interesting tips for making stock from Field and Stream. I am also looking forward to trying Great Venison Cooking's Venison Shawarma.
I have also been pouring through my cookbooks and found very little. I was surprised however when I consulted my Polish cookbook and found some interesting recipes and marinades within its pages. One suggested to just use wine as a marinade and another had a wine and vinegar recipe:
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. vinegar
1/3 c. red wine
Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Once marinade is room temperature, add to meat. Allow meat to marinade, turning several times a day.
I used unfiltered apple cider vinegar (from Trader Joe's) because I wasn't sure what kind to use and I thought that apple would provide some good flavor and I used a Sav Cab wine left over from Christmas Eve (probably not very good to drink at this point). I put the marinade in with one package of venison steaks (frozen) and will let them thaw and marinade over the next few days. I also put a package of frozen steaks in 1 c. of red wine. I am not sure what I will make with it but I will figure it out based on what is fresh the day I cook them. The book also has everything fried in lard after marinating. I have never cooked with lard but I have been reading some interesting things about it. I even saw a review recently of this cookbook Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient and I must admit, I am tempted to see what the deal is, although, not today. I will wait until the library gets it. Note: If someone has an extra copy they don't mind parting with, please let me know.
I also made Venison Stew in the Crock pot using a old Betty Crocker cookbook, using a few modifications. Here is the recipe I cooked (ingredients marked with a * were altered):
1 lbs cubed venison
*omitted ingredient 1 lb small potatoes
1 apple sliced
1 bay leaf
10 1/2 oz beef broth
1 c. wine or beef broth (I used beef broth)
1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup maple syrup and a TBSP of black strap molasses * called for 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic
Layer in venison, onion, potatoes, apples and bay leaf in crock pot. Pour liquids over top. Cook 8 to 10 hours on low.
Then mix 1/4 c flour and 1/4 c. water. Add to crock pot and stir. Cook 30 minutes more. Remove bay leaf and serve.
I did this last step but then I thickened the broth further with cream of wheat (I know it sounds weird but it doesn't taste like cereal or mealy. It just thickens the broth and adds lots of iron - something we are trying to get L1 lots of because he is on the low side).
I served bread with it.
Verdict: It was pretty good. There was too much Worcestershire flavor for us. The sauce also adds a lot of salt, which I noticed. It wasn't off putting but I would definitely use less the next time. Overall though the kids liked it, it was sweet and savory. It wasn't a traditional stew like I am used to but it is a good back up for when we need something different.
Do you eat venison? If so, how do you cook it?
This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.
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