One of the best parts of any successful hunt is being able to return with fresh, country-raised game meat for you and your family. And, of course you will want to show off a little. There’s something very primal and satisfying about being able to serve a tasty, satisfying meal that was the product of your labour literally from the field to the table. Venison is actually touted as one of the most sustainable meats in the world, but has a bad reputation for cooking…so here’s how to get it right.
Prepare your meat the right way.
Gamey, tough…these are not words you want to have associated with your meal. Prepare venison the right way, though, and they are also words you will never hear again. That preparation starts literally at the time you make your kill shot. The animal needs to be dressed and prepared as soon as possible. Guts, in particular, need to be removed so the meat isn’t tainted. Aging is a critical part of the process too.
If using a processor, chances are he will have all the setup for this perfectly. If you are doing this yourself, it pays to know what you are doing. Most people prefer dry aging the meat at 34-37 degrees to break down the tissue, and 10 to 14 day is normal. There is also wet aging if you prefer. Even if forced to use a cut that hasn’t been aged properly, turning a fan full blast on it for half an hour will make a huge difference in taste and appearance.
What about gamey taste?
Good venison is not actually gamey….this is a result of people used to flavourless corn raised beef not understanding the intricacies of the flavour of meat that has grazed on a variety of wild habitat. Opting for seasoning that enhances rather than attempts to cover this unique taste is the best way to ensure a tasty meal. Likewise, remember that overcooked venison is basically rubber. It needs less cooking then beef and a more tender treatment.
Don’t overdo it. Remember that deer meat is not marbled with fat the way beef is, and needs a more delicate touch when cooking. Remember also that each cut has a cooking method that goes best with it, from braising with tougher cuts right through to preparing a venison steak. Make sure that you match the correct cooking method to your cut to get optimal results. You can use tenderising methods on tougher cuts for better results.
But what about my venison steak?
So…on to the important bit. Your beautiful piece of properly prepared venison steak. As we said above, keeping it simple is the best way to fully showcase the intricate meat itself. A quick sear with an open fire and the right amount of salt is the way to go. Opt for a tender steak cut rather than a tougher one. Backstrap and tenderloin are the best ways to go. Leg cuts are not as popular or as tender.
Now, lightly slice the connective tissue edges to the steak. These tend to cook a little quicker than the steak and are the reason it will then curl. This will help keep it flat. Next pick your grill- firewood is tricky to use but unmastered if you get it right. Charcoal is the norm, and propane or gas stoves are a little looked down on but can work if you know what you are doing. You can get around the lack of aroma with a gas stove by burning a few wood chips with it. Marinating is a personal choice, but remember that the meat needs to sit out to come to room temperature before cooking to avoid the middle being cold.
Remember to set a cooler spot on the grill so, after searing, you will be able to finish the meat to your liking without destroying it. Lastly, venison will need to stand for at least 5 minutes if not longer after cooking. Please don’t forget this critical part of the process.
And there you have it…the best venison steak you could possibly hope for, yours from bush to plate.