, Gloucester, MA

November 27, 2012

Outdoors: The best venison recipes

Dave Sartwell

---- — Okay, you followed all of the directions about preseason scouting, how to set a tree stand, and where to go on Cape Ann to get your deer. And, from reading my columns you learned everything there is to know about what a deer can see, smell and hear. As a result you have bagged a really big buck. You now have a freezer full of some very lovely deer meat. That was the easy part. How do you now prepare the meat to provide your family and friends with a unique dining experience?

Never fear, Gourmet Dave is here!

Cooking venison is not difficult, but there are certain rules you must observe to be sure you get the most from your prize. If you cook venison as it should be cooked and approach it with an open mind by savoring its own distinctive flavor, you will be delighted with the outcome. Remember that venison is not beef and has to be treated quite differently.

Venison, as is the case with flesh of most wild animals, contains very little fat and as a result is a fairly dry meat. Every effort must be taken to preserve what little moisture is there. DO NOT...I repeat, DO NOT overcook venison. Anything over medium rare will be a crime against the palate. You will note in the following recipes that either moisture or fat is introduced from an outside agent.

Many folks equate old bucks with tough meat, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that an older deer tastes a bit different than a younger one. Just as veal lacks the character of aged, prime heavy beef, so the meat of a younger deer is not as full-bodied as an older one. Different methods of cooking will reveal the strength of each.

Here are a few recipes I have tried and these really work. However, you must pay attention to the details.

Let’s start with something very simple. I call them venison hooves (well, they would be called fingers but then deer don’t have fingers, but then neither do chickens, but I stray.) Cut strips of venison steak into pieces 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Salt and pepper to taste, dip into a beaten egg and then dredge through cracker crumbs. Fry in very hot and deep grease just like you would French Fries until they are golden brown. They are great appetizer or evening snack.

Venison chops with pine nuts is also simple but tasty. You will need four venison chops, 1/4 cup walnut oil, 1/4 pine nuts, 2 tsp. unsalted butter, and 1 sweet red pepper. Slice the red pepper into thin strips and sauté in butter. Sauté the pine nuts separately in 2 tsp. of walnut oil. Toss the peppers and nuts together an set aside. Sauté the chops in the remaining walnut oil for a minute or two on each side. Plate and add the pepper and nut mixture on top. Salt an pepper to


Venison with Mustard Sauce

We need 8 thin slices of venison, 1/3 c. flour, 4 tsp. butter, 2 tsp. minced shallots, 1/4 cup white wine, 1/2 c. heavy cream, an 1 tsp. dijon mustard. Pound the venison slices with a mallet until very thin. Blend flour with salt and pepper. Dredge meat on both sides. Heat butter in heavy

skillet over very hot heat, do not brown. Add venison. Sear quickly until golden brown, about 2 minutes on a side. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Add shallots to skillet and sauté 3 minutes. Add wine and cook until it is almost totally evaporated. Add cream an bring to a boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in mustard. Spoon the sauce over the meat and buttered noodles.

Venison Scallops

Here is a recipe for the adventuresome cook. It requires a little work but the result is unbelievable! Venison scallops are small pieces of meat about 1/2 inch thick that are cut across the grain from the eye of a round. So, if you have a good cut of roast, there should be a nice solid piece at the center from which you would cut the scallops.

You need 8-10 scallops, 3 tsp. oil, rind from 1/4 of an orange, 1 cup stock, 1/4 armagnac, 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp of butter, 2 tsp. coarsely chopped hazel nuts.

Toast the nuts in the oven until they are light brown. Wrap in a towel for 10 minutes to create steam and to loosen the skin from the nuts, rub off the skin and sauté in oil. Chop fine. seems like a lot of work, but it really isn’t and the taste is delightful.

Remove the orange rind from the orange with a potato peeler and slice into slivers. Make sure there is no pith because this will make it bitter. Blanch for five minutes in boiling water. Rinse, drain, and reserve.

Pan fry the scalloped venison in 2 tsp. of oil for a minute or two on each side. Remove from pan an set aside. Deglaze the pan with armagnac an then add the stock and reduce the liquid to 1/2 cup. Whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper. Add the nuts and orange slivers and pour over the venison scallops.

I love this with wild rice, carrots with a little butter and maple syrup, and a great cabernet.

Take the time to prepare your game the right way. You worked hard to get it, so enjoy!