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Garden & Gun publishes a lot of articles about gardens and not a whole hell of a lot about guns. What they do publish about firearms—like this article about long gun engraver Lisa Tomlin—is top notch nosh (intellectually speaking). Every now and then, thankfully, the two subjects intersect. In this month’s edition, Jed Portman shares his recipe for chocolate-flavored venison stew [republished after the jump]. Game on! In honor of the deer hunting season, I challenge Ralph and other gastronomically capable members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia to provide their recipes for preparing dead Bambi. What’s you favorite way to cook venison?

Southern Soul Venison Stew

Serves 10-12

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
¼ cup high-quality olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 large yellow onions, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. cubed venison
2 bay leaves
24 vine-ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, & diced
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups frozen peas
¼ cup 67% chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp. high-quality Worcestershire sauce
10 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large pot, blanch potatoes and set aside. In a large cast-iron Dutch oven or stock pot, sweat carrots, onions, celery, and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Add venison to the pot to brown. When venison is browned, drain fat and add bay leaves, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Simmer until venison is soft. When stew can coat the back of a spoon, add cooked potatoes, peas, chocolate, Worcestershire, thyme, and Dijon mustard. Heat through and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with crusty sourdough bread and enjoy with a cold beer.

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  1. I just don’t get that magazine. The gun articles amount to little more than firearm porn–really expensive models that look great but I can’t afford.

    Anyway, sounds like a good recipe, I just need to get a deer this Tuesday…

  2. I have a much simpler venison stew that is still very tasty.

    2 pounds of cubed venison
    minced garlic
    chopped onion
    two chopped stalks of celery
    two beef bullion cubes or two teaspoons of beef paste
    one tablespoon olive oil
    16 ounce can of stewed tomatoes
    four cubed potatoes
    six sliced carrots
    salt and pepper
    instant brown/beef gravy mix (optional)

    Put venison, garlic, onion, celery, olive oil, and beef bullion/paste in a roasting pan … add water until it is at least an inch deep or the meat is mostly covered. Sprinkle salt and black pepper. Cook in the oven on low heat (300 degrees) for at least two hours. Once meat is tender, add in cubed potatoes, sliced carrots, and a can of stewed tomatoes. Bump up the heat to 350 degrees and cook for another hour.

    After you remove the roasting pan from the oven, if there is a lot of broth in the bottom of the roasting pan, you can add tablespoon or so of instant brown/beef gravy mix to thicken the broth and make a gravy. Or you can simply make two cups of gravy and add it to the stew or ladle it over your serving on your plate.

    Note that you can pretty much do the same thing in a large pot on your your stove or in a cast iron dutch oven just about anywhere.

  3. I’m making my deer into 1/4 steak, 1/4 hamburger, 1/4, sausage, and 1/4 hot sticks.
    One of the tricks is to find a good butcher who vacuum seals the meat (well the sausage and hot sticks anyways). My venison chili is pretty simple:

    1/2 pound 93% lean hamburger
    1/2 pound ground venison
    1 can chick peas
    1 can kidney beans
    1 can black beans
    1 can of spaghetti sauce
    1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    1/4 cup red wine
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped tomato
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 tsp chili powder

    Brown meat and add favorite wine, drain as needed, and add the rest of the ingredients.

  4. Okay, have a question. Does anyone eat venison as a steak? Have only had it as jerky in all of my 45 years.

    I do not hunt by the way, not against it but I am against anyone that hunts that does not clean the animal as there is no way I could do that. Yuck! 🙂

    • I’ve not eaten venison as steak. However, I’ve eaten venison cooked as a burger and it was the best tasting burger that I’ve ever had.

      • Venison steak is good. The family prefers the steak cut into medalions then breaded with flour. After that, its into the frying pan with a stick of butter and soy sauce.

        Tonight’s dinner will be a 3 lb vension roast in the crock pot with onions, carrots and garlic though. The house already stinks good.

    • I used to be a hunter. In my high school and college days, over 40 years ago now. I put down a few of Bambi’s siblings during that time and I helped skin and clean numerous of the deer others had killed. That’s why I have never been able to eat venison. Probably because the worst smell on earth is that of a gutshot buck that had been on a diet of acorns and various other wild nut and salad concoctions. Fermented cat crap spiced with aged rat guts smells better.

      While I’ve tried to eat venison in various and sundry recipes claimed by culinary experts to have the “wild and gamey” taste removed from the meat, I can taste the venison in the most highly seasoned dishes out there without being told it is present beforehand. Can’t hide the taste from me. Rather have Brussels sprouts (and I hate those things).

      Oddly enough, venison is the only game meat I’ve tried that I cannot stomach. I’ve helped clean and I’ve eaten squirrel, raccoon, possum (none of which I particularly like but I can eat them) and various other game animals and birds. Nothing affects me like the taste of venison–it literally gags me.

    • I’m not a hunter eaither, but the only venison I’ve eaten was steaks from hunters who knew how to properly bleed and gut the animal. Broiled, yum. First time I had one, my mother marinated it; completely unnecessary.

    • We eat venison steaks all the time. Simply place on a plate and brush some olive oil on them. Then sprinkle lightly with onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Cook on really hot fire and enjoy. They are outstanding. Deer from the Midwest that eat a good diet (buds, shoots, grass, alfalfa, corn, soy beans, apples, etc.) taste almost the same as beef.

      You can try adding a little coriander to the steaks as well before cooking for a really good and different flavor component.

      Notes: my butcher cuts my venison steaks pretty thin — about 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick. If the fire or even frying pan for that matter is really hot and stays hot, you only need to cook them for about 2 minutes per side. Venison is really dark red and it is exceedingly easy to overcook venison.

  5. If I’m eating backstrap, I prefer it fried. Cut the backstrap into 1.5″ x 1.5″ cubes and set aside. Prepare a dry dredge with the following ingredients:
    3/4 cup all purpose flour
    1/4 cup white corn meal
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 tsp cayenne pepper

    Prepare a wet dredge with with following ingredients:
    3/4 cup milk
    1/4 cup buttermilk
    2 tbsp hot sauce

    Dredge the venison in the dry mixture (lightly) first, then the wet dredge, then back in the dry dredge. Fry in peanut oil until golden brown.

  6. I have eaten plenty of venison in my life and treat it just like beef for cooking purposes that range from BBQ to roast to stew. A lot of people here in western Canada prefer to grind it into burger or sausage, while others like to turn it into jerky or pepperoni style products. I enjoy the flavor of venison, so I feel no need to make it taste like something I could buy at 7-11 in a package at 3 in the morning while under the serious influence of alcohol.

  7. Venison steaks and chops are very yummy, but they dry out fast because they’re so low in fat. Several hours of marinating and then searing the steaks or chops in a cast iron skillet works fine. Be wary since they cook a lot faster than beef steaks. I use less heat for deer than I would for beef. Some cooks flour the venison before cooking in the hope that a coating will seal in juices. I haven’t found that technique to be helpful.

    For a venison roast, I prefer to use a moderate oven (350 degrees) with the roast hand rubbed with rosemary, oregano and other herbs of the cook’s choosing. Sear the roast very quickly, then wrap the roast and fresh vegetables like carrots and onions — chef’s choice there too — in aluminum foil, making sure that the edges of the foil are tightly sealed. Don’t overtighten the foil — leave a bit room for the moisture within the roast and the veggies to form steam and the venison will actually braise itself.

    Venison steaks and chops can also be sauced after cooking. Any good wine reduction (I prefer a dry-ish light Marsala as opposed to port or sherry) with complementary spices and a touch of tart fruit like cranberries or ligonberries should work beautifully.

    Some cooks prefer to sauce venison with a reduction that includes sweet fruit, like blueberries or oranges. Personally, those types of sauces on venison often make me gag. It’s hard to balance sweet reductions, so they often come out over-reduced and way too sweet. Stick with tart fruit and you almost can do no wrong.

  8. I’m on the same page as Scott:

    “If I’m eating backstrap, I prefer it fried. Cut the backstrap into 1.5″ x 1.5″ cubes and set aside. Prepare a dry dredge with the following. . . ” etc.

    I add the following:

    After cutting the backstrap into half-inch slices, give each a good four or five whacks with the tenderizer (meat-hammer) so as to pound it out to a quarter-inch or so thickness.

    This removes any complaint that the meat is too tough.

  9. Venison is wonderful but very lean so it can dry quickly. I love steaks and chops but I cut everything off the bone. When you clean and butcher it, brine it overnight to draw out the blood. It also hydrates the meat and keeps it from freezer burning too badly.
    My favorite recipe is an asian marinade of oyster sauce and hoisin sauce (50/50) overnight in the fridge before 5 min on a side over a hot grill. Medium rare, juicy and tender.

  10. I would suggest to anyone to get the book “A Taste of the Wild A Compendium of Modern American Game Cookery” by A. J. McClane . It is out of print but available from Amazon. The “trick” to cooking venison is to first treat it correctly. That is you don’t throw it over the hood of your truck, drive it to town and get around to skinning it two days later. Treat it like food which it is. Then DO NOT OVERCOOK IT! This will ruin any game faster than anything else you can do. Game does not have the fat that domestic meat has so overcooking will ruin it.

    I was raised in a family where game was the norm but not considered anything special and in fact my father didn’t like it because I think that is all he had to eat when he was a child. I went to school in France and was frankly surprised at how the French treated game. They thought of it as far above raised meat, not even in the same category.

    If you want to learn how to cook any wild meat the book is an asset. Well except for bear. He has it in for bear because the only bear he ever ate was a garbage bear. Yes, as Feuerbach said, you are what you eat. However, I can tell you that berry fed Cascade Mountain bear is fine eating. Just make sure you cook it to 142 degrees which is the norm for any carnivore.

  11. unanswered questions abound, type, kind of cut, preparation, was it eating from a farmers field or a mountian hillside mostly. No matter what, a sure fired method to enjoy venision: soak over night in buttermilk, rinse then pat dry, cut meat along the grain about the size of middle finger, roll in flour/salt/pepper and fry in peanut oil, turn once when brown, when meat starts to bleed remove and eat or wait and make gravy from the drippings. Enjoy!


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