How to Cook Venison
Fall equals venison for millions of Americans. And while once venison (deer and elk meat) was considered indulgent or even “backwoods,” today venison is a treat in the nation’s finest restaurants. The reasons for this are two-fold.
First, venison tastes great, with a woody, slightly fruity flavor. Second, venison is healthy. Low in fat, cholesterol, and calories and high in protein, iron, and B vitamins, venison is a terrific alternative to beef.
In fact, if you’re avoiding beef for health reasons, you should strongly consider venison. Beef has 223 calories per 3 oz. serving, while venison only has 139. Beef has 77 grams of cholesterol, and venison has only 62. Beef has 13 grams of fat, but venison has just 5.
How to Cook Venison
If you’re afraid to cook venison, you needn’t be. It’s very similar to cooking beef, and can be used in every way beef can. However, bear in mind that because venison is a lean meat, it will dry out more easily than beef. Therefore, the only real trick to cooking venison is to not over cook it.
Preparing to Cook
Before cooking venison, cut off any large areas of fat, since this is the major source of “gamey” flavor in the meat.
Because venison, like all game meat, may be higher in bacteria than store-bought meat, it’s essential to thaw frozen venison in the refrigerator, where the bacteria is less likely to thrive.
A good tenderizer for venison is a mixture of 2 cups of vinegar, 2 cups of water, and ½ cup of sugar. You can also try mixing vinegar with tomato sauce, pineapple juice, or milk. Marinate for no more than 24 hours, or the meat will become spongy.
Don’t salt venison; this reduces the natural juices of the meat too much.
Try cooking venison in red wine, or season it with garlic, rosemary, black pepper, or crushed juniper berries.
Traditionally, venison is slow roasted, but moist-heat methods work best for this lean meat. Use a heavy pan and some olive oil. Season the meat as desired and brown it. Cover the pan and cook until tender, making sure the meat reaches 160 degrees F.
If you want to grill venison, be sure to spray the meat with oil so it doesn’t stick to the grill.
Stewing is an excellent method for cooking tougher cuts of venison. Brown the meat, then place in a large pot. Cover with boiling water. Cover the pan and simmer for two hours, or until meat is tender.
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