How to Cook Venison

One of the many reasons for hunting is knowing the food you’re putting on the table was put there with your own two hands. Not only is it cheaper than buying meat at the store, venison is healthier than any other red meat when cooked correctly. So, how do you cook it?

Prep

To prep venison, you season the meat just like you would beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper, or whatever your seasoning of choice may be. Venison will break down well with dry rubs. The enzymes break down naturally without making the meat mushy. How long you cook the venison depends on the cut of meat you’re using.

Venison has an extremely low fat content compared to other meats, which is what makes it cook differently. Venison can become chewy and gamey if you let it cook for too long. If you are afraid of overcooking the venison, you can mix in pork for more fat. This will allow you to braise it for longer than venison alone. This technique is useful when making venison burgers.

The more tender the cut, the higher the heat it can take. Loins can handle grilling or pan searing over high heat and are best served rare or medium rare. Tougher meats like shoulder and shanks are better braised or stewed on a lower heat for a longer period of time. Shoulder meat is also great when put in a grinder to make sausage. Shanks work well in stews. Start by cutting the meat off the bone in one inch cubes. The sinew and connective tissue in the shanks should melt out of the meat and help thicken up the stew.

Backstrap is a cut of venison that is one of the easiest to prep and can be thrown on the grill. If you leave it in larger chunks, it’s less likely to burn. Hindquarters are a combination cut and work best when cut into one inch steaks and pan-fried.

Venison is a healthier alternative to beef and can be used as a substitute for other red meats. That being said, the cooking instructions for venison are not interchangeable with beef. Venison will not cook the same as beef and will make the recipe turn out differently if you try to cook them the same. Follow the cooking instructions for the venison separately, then add it to your dish. Or follow venison-specific recipes for your dishes.

Age

Venison should be aged before it’s served. Your deer processor will most likely age your venison for you, but if you dress your deer yourself you’ll want to either dry or wet age your meat. To dry age, refrigerate the venison on a rack set over a pan in about 34 to 37 degree temperatures for 7-14 days. To wet age, thaw the venison in the refrigerator in vacuum-sealed packaging and refrigerate it for up to 14 days.

Whether you’re looking to use already aged venison or you’re just starting out on your venison journey, there are venison recipes for cooks of any skill level.

Try it Out

Are your taste-buds peaked? Check out this recipe for venison stroganoff and wow your family with a healthy alternative to a classic dish.

What’s your favorite venison recipe? Have a special way you cook your venison? Share your venison cooking hacks with us!

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