It’s that time of year here in Missouri, the time we fill our freezer with the wonderful protein God has provided us in nature…white-tailed deer! Having grown up in this area, both my husband and I grew up eating deer as a large part of our diet and still love the taste of it. Since the season is upon us, I thought I would share some of our favorite ways to prepare venison just in case you are blessed with some as well.Fried Tenderloin Strips
We don’t fry a lot of foods, but we do make an exception for deer tenderloin because it’s just simply divine. It’s as easy as cutting the tenderloin into thin strips, dredging them in a mixture of flour and whatever spices you like (don’t forget salt and pepper), and sauteing in whatever kind of fat/oil you prefer. It only takes a few minutes to cook if you slice it thinly, and it will almost melt in your mouth. We usually have this with mashed potatoes, biscuits, and gravy made from the pan drippings, but you can make it healthier by adding different sides. (By the way, if you freeze the tenderloin for 20-30 minutes before slicing, it makes it so much easier to get thin slices. And be sure to use a super sharp knife that is designed for cutting meat.)
Probably our second favorite way to prepare venison is to roast it in the Crock-Pot. This is perfect for those less-than-tender cuts, as anything slow-cooked all day will be falling apart by the time you’re ready to eat it. Just brown the roast in olive oil (or any kind of oil) in a pan on the stove, then transfer to the Crock-Pot and add any vegetables you like (potatoes, carrots, etc.), and seasonings. I have used all kinds of seasonings, from store bought packages to tossing in whatever smells good at the time, and really you just can’t go wrong. If you like your roasts served with gravy, use the juices and make a silky smooth gravy to go over the top.
Substitute for Beef
I don’t think I can write a post on venison without throwing out my favorite way to use it…in place of beef in any recipe! We process our own venison, which is a polite way of saying we butcher it ourselves, and we do not grind any of it. Usually the ground venison is so low-fat that you need to add oil to the pan to cook it, unlike the usual ground beef you find at the store. But it can be used ground as a substitute for any ground beef dish. We use the roasts, steaks, and loin cuts interchangeably with roasts, steaks, and loin of beef. For example, one of our favorite meals is stroganoff. We simply cut up the venison meat into strips and use instead of beef. Another is beef tips (small pieces of tender meat in a light gravy), but we substitute deer instead of beef. You get the idea.
It really all boils down to us saving quite a bit of money on meat throughout the year by harvesting what we can during the season we are allowed by law. We stock the freezer with as much as we can, and then try to evenly stagger out the use of it throughout the year. Because we process the meat ourselves, we get a high quality protein source at the lowest price available to us. Sure beats the price of beef that we are seeing in the stores right now!
I’m always interested in new recipes or ways to prepare foods, so let me know your favorite ways to eat venison!