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Venison

Illustration

Preparation, uses, and tips

Trim off all excess venison fat before cooking, as the fat contains the gamey taste. If some fat is desired, add beef or pork fat.

Tough meat can be tenderized by marinating it in acidic ingredients (for no more than 24 hours), or pounding it with a mallet to break down connective tissues.

Venison toughens quickly if overcooked or cooked at high heat. For best results, use a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the venison, making sure the thermometer is not touching a bone. Internal temperatures should be as follows when the venison is done:

  • Ground venison 160°F (71°C).
  • Roasts, steaks:
  • Medium rare 145°F (62°C)
  • Medium 160°F (71°C)
  • Well done 170°F (76.6°C)

Frying

Heat a frying pan until very hot. Add butter or oil. Fry thin steaks 90 seconds on each side. Serve hot.

Roasting

This dry-heat method works well on tender cuts, such as tenderloin, loin, and sirloin roasts. Wash roast under cold water, pat dry, and place on a rack above a shallow roasting pan. Cover top of roast with bacon strips. Insert meat thermometer deep into the meat. Roast at 300 to 350°F (150 to 180°C) until desired internal temperature is reached, 20 to 15 minutes per pound (454g)

Moist roasting

Lay out enough aluminum foil to double-wrap the roast. Sprinkle dehydrated vegetable soup mix on foil; place roast on foil, then sprinkle more soup mix on top of roast. Wrap and cook in preheated 325 to 350°F (160 to 180° C) oven for several hours, until tender yet still moist and juicy.

Broiling

Wash steaks, pat dry, and place steaks or burgers on a rack above a shallow roasting pan. Adjust the oven rack so meat is 3 inches (7.6cm) from the heat source for thin cuts, 4 inches (10cm) for thick cuts. Turn with spatula after 7 to 10 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch (3.8-cm) steak. Cook until desired internal temperature is reached.

Pan-broiling

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add oil or butter and place steak or burgers in the skillet. Sear until brown on both sides, turning only once.

Stir-frying

Wash venison, cut into thin strips, and pat dry. Use tender cuts or tough cuts sliced across the grain. Heat a wok or heavy skillet until very hot. Add oil, then the slices of venison. Stir until done, about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on quantity. Venison stir-fries well in small batches.

Braising

Wet-heat cooking methods work well for tougher cuts of meat, such as pot roast or brisket. Heat a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until very hot. Add oil or butter. Wash roast, pat dry, and brown on all sides. When all the meat is browned, add cooking liquid and cover tightly with a lid. Cook in the oven at 325°F (160°C) or on the stovetop over low heat until venison is tender.

Stewing

Wash, pat dry, and cut tougher cuts into cubes. Brown in oil if desired. Then place meat in a Dutch oven and cover with liquid and herbs, spices, and vegetables. Cook in a preheated oven at 325°F (160°C), or on the stovetop over low heat until venison is tender.

Microwaving

For roasts, place meat on a roasting rack over a dish, fat side down. Cook on High for 6 to 8 minutes, then on Medium for 7 to 14 minutes per pound (454g). Turn the dish halfway through. Let stand 15 minutes. For burgers, arrange portions on a greased baking dish, and cook 10 minutes per pound (454g) on High, turning halfway through cooking time.

Grilling

Place steaks or burgers on a prepared grill with the rack about 8 inches (20cm) from the heat source. Grill, turning frequently, for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until fork tender. Homemade or bottled barbecue sauce (or other glazes) may be brushed on venison during last 10 to 20 minutes of grilling time.

To test the temperature, place your palms above the coals or heat source at cooking level. If you have to remove your hands after 2 seconds, the temperature is hot; after 3 seconds, medium hot; and after 4 seconds, medium. More than 4 seconds indicates the grill has not reached cooking temperature.

Buying and storing tips

Ask the age of the animal; younger animals are more tender. If fresh, venison should be moist and springy, but not soft. If frozen, make sure the wrapping is intact and that there is no excess liquid; if there is it might tell you the venison has thawed and been refrozen.

Leave venison in its original wrapping, over-wrap with foil to keep meat juices from contaminating other food, and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Refrigerate no more than two days for small cuts, three to four days for large cuts. To keep venison longer than that, wrap in foil or place in freezer bags and store in the freezer. Ground venison keeps for two to three months; stew meat for three to four months; roasts and steaks for six months.

Defrost frozen venison in the refrigerator. Steaks and chops take about 24 hours; roasts two to three days, depending on the size. Bring venison to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

To quick-thaw, separate steaks and chops and place on a microwavable platter in the microwave oven. Heat using the Defrost setting for 7 to 11 minutes, depending on size and number. Turn halfway through. Place large roasts or legs in a baking dish and defrost for 18 to 32 minutes, depending on size. Turn halfway though. Place ground meat in a shallow baking dish, cover, and defrost 6 to 8 minutes, breaking up and turning the meat several times.

Varieties

Venison is usually purchased frozen. It is available in many different cuts, such as steaks, roasts, brisket, stew meat, and ground venison. Tender cuts come from the ribs and loin, tougher cuts from the rump and shoulder. Chuck and shoulder are tasty cuts that make good pot roast or, if tenderized, can be eaten as steak. Ribs and rib-eye steaks are tender cuts that can be broiled or grilled. Shank and heel of round are bony leg cuts that make good venison stock for soups.

Nutrition Highlights

Venison, 3.5 oz. (99g) (raw)
Calories: 120
Protein: 22.9g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 2.4g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Riboflavin (0.48mg), and Vitamin B12 (6.3mcg)
*Good source of: Iron (3.4mg), and Zinc (2.1mg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

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