Where’s The Deer???

As I write that title, I’m thinking that’s probably what some hunters are thinking.  However, I meant the title to be a play on the old Wendy’s commercial “Where’s The Beef?!?!”  Remember that one?  If you do, well then, you’re old.  Just kidding!!  I remember it & I’m not old :).

Ok…now that the trip to denial is over, let’s get down to business.  A few weeks ago, a friend of ours gave us some venison.  By some, I mean a whole deer.  By whole deer, I mean a LOT of meat.  We paid for the processing, which at the time I thought was a lot.  Then, I saw how much meat we got.  I think when it was all said and done, we paid about $0.60/pound.  Try buying beef at that price…can’t be done!

This whole hunting thing is new to me.  My dad didn’t hunt when I was growing up.  Besides a BB gun, I don’t think a gun ever graced our door.  We never ate venison or anything like that.  So, I’ve got a learning curve to overcome.

I’ve been talking a lot to other hunters and hunting widows…getting tips and tricks for cooking the meat.  My mother-in-law has a “Wild Game” cookbook.  I got to read it on our trip to Oklahoma.  Parts of it were very helpful.  Parts were very funny.  In the front of the book, it has instructions on how to clean and process your meat.  The deer section was very long.  Bear was a little shorter.  Raccoon and possum had about 2 or 3 lines of instruction.  They even had a place for skunk & porcupine.  All it said was “Clean very carefully”.  I cracked up at that one!!!!  

So, the first dish I made with our venison was venison spaghetti.  I figured you couldn’t really mess that one up.  All I did was substitute ground venison for the ground turkey I normally use.  I browned two pounds of ground venison and added it to my crock pot of sauce.  I let it cook all day long.

ImageWhat I love most about spaghetti is that is makes us a lot of dinners.  We ate on this for several meals.  I even made a crock pot lasagna with some of the leftover sauce.  It went over really well.  Let’s face it…who doesn’t love spaghetti??

Tonight, I ventured even further into the unknown.  I had copied the entire Deer section from my mother-in-law’s Wild Game cookbook & let my hubby pick an entree for dinner this week.  He chose “Venison Broiled Filet Mignon”.  Yep, for my second time ever cooking venison, I made filet mignon.  I’ve never even made it with a cow.  

ImageIt turned out beautifully!  I did change one thing in the recipe.  Instead of broiling it (which I’ve never done before), I decided to bake it at 350 for 30 minutes.  It turned out perfectly.  No pink at all in the middle and was tender.  I was nervous while making this. I used the tenderloin, which I found out is the most desired of the venison cuts of meat.  We only have a few servings of this particular cut, so if I messed up, well, I ruined some really nice meat.  My hubby & son decided this was a keeper recipe!  YAY!!!

A couple of tips I’ve learned while cooking venison.  #1, it helps to soak the meat in milk overnight (except ground venison).  It draws out the blood, tenderizes it and gets rid of that “gamey” taste that everyone talks about.  My hubby said the filet mignon did not have a gamey taste to it, so I guess it worked!  #2, you have to cook it slow, or on low heat.  I guess if you cook it too fast, it will make it really tough, and no one likes to eat tough meat…no matter what animal it comes from.

After getting through this particular recipe, I feel pretty confident now to cook other venison dishes.  I think I’ll ease into it and try one new recipe each week.  One thing I’m loving about it (besides it being so inexpensive) is that it is so lean.  If you’re looking to watch your fat intake in your meat, but still want to eat red meat, this might be a good option for ya.

Happy Hunting!!

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