Monday, February 20, 2012

From Tree Stand to Table: Venison 5 Ways

As previously mentioned, this year, Cooper started hunting in earnest. He spent most of the winter focused on (mostly fruitless) goose hunting, both on the Eastern shore and in the country just north of Baltimore. At the end of January, though, he carved out a few days for deer hunting in Loch Raven.

I didn't get my hopes up - not that I don't have faith in Cooper's abilities, I just know that some days are luckier than others. As it turns out, one Monday a few weeks ago was a lucky one! So that is how we found ourselves, at the very end of January, with a freezer full of deer.

Though he sent most of the deer to Ridgely and Ferrens in Towson for processing, on that first night, Cooper cut out the tenderloin and the liver himself and brought those home directly. The next night, he soaked the liver in milk, dredged it in flour and fried it with a sliced onion:

He wanted - very badly - to like it. But...he didn't. Too much iron. And if it's got too much iron for Cooper, it's got too much iron for nearly everybody. So venison take one...not so successful.

Take two was better. The same night, I cooked half the tenderloin with a mushroom gravy - jaeger schnitzel using Hank Shaw's recipe as a guide:

Cooper liked the jaeger schnitzel very much, while I just...liked it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my favorite preparation of venison, either. The sauce was great - earthy and savory - but the recipe involves pounding the meat into fairly thin pieces and in the end, I wasn't in love with the texture of the meat. My piece was a little chewy. But again, the sauce was very good.

About a week later, two Fridays ago, we got the rest of the deer back from Ridgeley and Ferrens, so we celebrated with a simple dinner of scalloped potatoes, greend beans and grilled steaks:

Cooper marinated the steaks in a combination of red wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and a few herbs and spices. Grilled to medium rare, it was tasty and tender. Not a complicated dinner, but a really good one.

But wait - there's more! In addition to steaks, our freezer is now full with pounds and pounds of ground venison, which is mixed with a little pork to add some fat. The following Sunday, we decided to put some of that ground to good use. Our parents came over, plus Kyle, Mary and Bill, and we made a giant pot of chili:

Actually, that photo shows the chili when the giant pot is nearly empty. I was so busy cooking, then eating, that I forgot to take any pictures. I didn't follow any specific recipe for the chili, but I did rely on those McCormick packets of chili spice, plus a little extra cayenne for good measure. A few pounds of venison, an equal amount of red kidney beans, some tomato sauce and tomato paste, onion, red pepper and jalapeno...that's about it.

We topped the chili with shredded cheddar, sour cream and chips - and ate nearly the whole pot.

And FINALLY...last night's dinner. Venison bourguignon a la Barefoot Contessa. I used her boeuf bourguignon recipe, which I've made a bunch of times, but using cubed venison steak and tenderloin in place of the beef:

The recipe is fairly simple and though it takes a couple of hours, it's not as time consuming as some boeuf bourguignon recipes. The end result, served with crusty bread, lightly toasted and rubbed with garlic, is rich and very satisfying. Real cold winter's night type food.

So there it is - one deer, four nights, five meals.

And the best part? The freezer is still pretty full.


theminx said...

You must have a chest freezer, eh?

Some years back, I designed a Web site for a guy who was going to pay me in venison. He managed to bag absolutely nothing for the next several years - or so he said. Now I've lost contact with him and the site is down. Bah.

Bourguignon and chili look good!

Kit Pollard said...

Hmmm...I think you might have gotten taken for a ride. Though that would be a pretty sweet payment.

We don't have a chest freezer, though we've thought about getting one. We just have an extra fridge in the basement - it's got a big freezer, filled with venison, booze and Trader Joe's flatbreads that I keep around in case of unexpected guests in snowstorms or something like that.

Lina said...

David got his first deer this year and we've been experimenting with different recipes too. Of course, he was super-classy about it and shot it from our front porch. :) Did he shoot a doe? I hear they are more tender. Jerky was the biggest winner for us so far, but we've been enjoying the ground venison a lot too. Have fun!

Kit Pollard said...

Lina, if Cooper could shoot a deer from our front porch, he'd be in heaven. But since we live a mile from the city line, I'm pretty sure that's illegal.

It was a doe - a smallish one, which we've also heard is more tender. We didn't get any jerky, and I'm kicking myself for it - I've heard so many good things.

It IS fun, isn't it?


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