Wednesday, December 3, 2014

So I Married A Hunter... Delicious Ways to Cook That Venison!

It's hunting season!

If words like rut and point and tree stand are being thrown around at your house, you know it to be true. The benefit of having a hunting family member is that you (hopefully) end up with a freezer full of meat. But once you have that meat, what do you do with it?

If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would ever be eating (much less preparing) venison, I definitely would have said no. I loved animals and hunting seemed so barbaric. Plus, didn't it have a gamey flavor? And then, a little over 10 years ago, I fell in love with a hunter. It took me a while to come to terms with eating "Bambi," but now I have no problem with deer meat (although I much prefer to call it venison).

Usually people who have an aversion to wild game like venison have the same complaints about eating it.

The Complaints:

Venison tastes funny (gamey). Yes, venison does have a different taste. Some of that is the deer's diet, but I think part of it is preparation, too. Many people say that the fat is what causes the meat to taste gamey, so it's best to trim it off. It's also believed that a buck has a stronger taste than a doe. I've never done a side-by-side comparison, but it's something to keep in mind.
For some, there's definitely a mind-over-matter component. Venison might taste funny just because you know it's venison and you just don't like the idea of eating a deer. I get it. But if you eat chicken or beef, you're eating an animal too. (And probably one that lived in much worse conditions than that deer - but we won't go there today...) It's just something you have to get used to. Come with an open mind and you might just like it!

Venison is so dry and tough! Since it's much leaner than a farm-raised animal, deer meat will be more dry than beef. Depending on what you make, venison can be unbearably dry and tough. You need to have a little know-how to cook it right.

In the eight years that I've been married to Hubby, I've discovered some great tips for cooking venison to prevent it from living up to its stereotypes.

The Tips:

  • Soak the venison in a brine (I have not done this myself, but I have seen it recommended).
  • Mix ground venison with another ground meat like beef or turkey.
  • Use seasonings (like garlic or strong spices) to mask the "gamey taste."
  • Slow cook and shred it.
  • Use venison in hearty soups and stews
  • Cut the venison into into pieces (cubed or against the grain).
  • Marinate a good cut (like the tenderloin) and grill it, being sure to leave some pink in the middle.
  • Pressure can it. (I personally haven't tried this yet, but I have a friend who swears by it - she says the meat comes out so tender. Next time Hubby gets a deer, I plan to try it too.)

Our Go-To Venison Meals:

Venison Tenderloin Pot Roast in the Crock Pot
2. Crock Pot Roast 
(Sear meat, carrots, and potatoes on the stovetop, add to crock with 2 cups broth, and cook 6-8 hours on low.)

3. Crock Pot Beef Stew (this is in my crock pot right now!) 

9. Chili

10. Italian Shredded Venison Sandwiches
(recipe to come!) 

  11. Marinated and Grilled
(Our favorite marinade recipe to come, probably this summer)

12. Fajitas
(This will be a bit tougher than beef, so it's key to cut the strips of meat against the grain.)

So, what's your opinion on venison? Never tried it? Won't touch it? Or maybe you love it and have a recipe to add to the list. I'd love to hear from you!


  1. I had a bad experience with venison when I was younger, but these recipes look delicious! Would definitely be willing to try it again if presented with the opportunity!

    1. I'm glad you're willing to give it another chance, Kelly! If you try one of these recipes, I don't think you'll be disappointed. :)

  2. My family always made a recipe called Marcetti, and it was the closest thing to Italian cooking my grandmother ever did. It's like a lasagna casserole, and she always made it with ground venison. My brother got a buck this year, and I'll admit I'm hoping he'll share a pound of it with me so I can make this recipe.

    1. Sounds yummy, Ruth! Would you share the recipe?


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