Published by Kelly Johnson on 07 Apr 2008 at 06:06 pm
Hey ya’ll. I’ve been cooking professionally for over 20 years now and thought I’d pass along some tips that may help get the most enjoyment after you tag the big one
First we’ll talk about Venison.
Vension is lean. Made even leaner by the fact that the fat is not pleasurable at all because it coagulates at a much lower temp than farm raised animals.
What that means is if you add venison fat to a sausage recipe when you eat it and take a drink….it turns to vaseline in your mouth. So….trim all the fat off. We can add a more palatable fat later.
There are 2 major factors in how your animal will taste inherently.
A Whitetail from the Rocky Mountians that lives in big woods will have a very different flavor profile than one from the agro region in Illinois for example.
How the animal was killed and handled during butchering. I’ll do butchering later if there’s interest so for now let’s just say gut it, skin it and cool it as quickly as possible
Next let’s break these up into 2 parts.
Texture. How tough, tender, stringy etc…physical traits in mouth feel, “bite” and texture
Flavor. Gaminess, piney or sagey-ness etc
The older the animal and/or rougher the terrain the tougher it’ll be.
The harder the muscle works, the tougher the meat will be.
The leaner the diet, the tougher it will be. The more protien rich, the more tender.
The “Fresher” the tougher. Letting an animal hang or age properly goes a long way in tenderizing it through natural enzymes breaking down the tough connective tissue. I recommend 7-14 days for a whole carcass depending on age and size at around 41 degrees.
The thinner, the more tender. The thicker the tougher. Thin slices off a roast or raw meat sliced and pounded thin (like scallopine) before cooking will always work.
1.Don’t Boil it. Don’t boil it…don’t boil it!
Boiling meat is a great way to waste time and ruin meat. SIMMER! Tiny bubbles! Simmer has the heat without the agitation. Bring it to a boil and QUICKLY lower the heat to low simmer. As low as you can get it and still get a bubble every 2-3 seconds. Cover it and cook till tender…1.5-4 hrs depending on size.
2.Use liquid….wine, stock, broth, water, beer etc. Not submerged in it but a couple inches in the bottom will help keep it moist and cook evenly.
3. Add fat.Drape raw bacon over the top before you put the lid on, rub a little butter on top the last 2-3 minutes of cooking etc. This will all but gaurantee it be moist and not dry out.
Thinner cuts and steaks
1. Don’t overcook it. Medium rare to medium will be most tender.
2. Don’t boil it! If you start with thin slices for salisbury steak or something when you add the stock or gravy…simmer.
3. Pound it or jaccard it. (Search Jaccard…great tool for the wild game chef and well worth the $ IMO) Pounding with a meat mallet or jaccarding breaks down the connective tissue by force.
4. Marinate it. I’m not a big fan of marination in general but it does help a little. Acid is the tenderizer…(it’s the vinegar in italian dressing )
The coppery, bloody, “gamey” flavor can be offset by a myriad of ingredients.
Acids and sugars mask it well but you may need to add a fat to offset the acid….which works out well becasue it’s generally so lean the fat will help with mouth feel and “roundness” anyway.
Examples of acidic ingredients are…
Vinegars (Balsamic is great or apple cider maybe)
Fruits. Currants, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raisins etc.
If you want to test this take your standard venison tenderloin and cook half in a hot pan with whatever gravy you use or sauce you make. Now add 1/2 Tbsp of red wine vinegar to your sauce and taste it again. You’ll see what I mean.
Now the straight vinegar goes a long way. Just a touch in the sauce. If you add too much a little sugar will help even it out and add a litt ebutter or oil to smooth it over. I’ll often mix Cider Vin and Sugar and cook till it’s a syrup and keep that around the kitchen in a small bottle to add as I need it.
Now unless you like sweet and sour everything you may need to smooth some of them out with a little fat. Add a little pat of butter to the sauce at the end maybe or a drizzle of GOOD olive oil where it fits will round these out and bring the flavors to the meat instead of having the meat overpower everything else.
Here’s the theories at work
Venison loin with Chocolate Balsamic, Baby root vegetables and Horseradish sprouts.
Well that’s all pretty generic stuff and I hope it gives a little insight and maybe help someone enjoy their kill a little bit more.
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