People Give Me Dead Meat…

January 14, 2010

People give me dead meat. In the fall & winter, like clock work. Either it’s Dr. Dave, my chiropractor who hunts on my property, who tells me to meet him behind his office in the parking, or the gentlemen whose name I’m not certain of, but for five years appears at my front door smiling and says, “Nice year for doe. I’ve got some great loins and that burger you like.” (I like?? ) He then hands me 50 pounds of frozen, dead meat. Next, I’m off in search of recipes and recipients. I’m sure this will come as no surprise, but the Northern Virginia Piedmont area is considered a culinary hotbed for fresh venison.

I’ve eaten venison for a long time. A couple times a year – tops – will do me. I think I’m like a lot of people that can stomach venison in small doses and usually if it part of a unique entree that makes my mental palate drool. Maybe it’s the whole “Bambi thing “ I guess. But if it’s done right, venison is very enjoyable, very lean and pairs well with a nice, red burgundy.

Most recipes call for cooking the meat all day and drowning it in some sauce – usually ketchup or BBQ. In my opinion, the goal of these recipes is to cover up the taste of the meat. You could be eating a shoe and never know it.

I have assembled three venison recipes for all levels. The first is a great starter dish for venison newbie’s, the second graduates to a more southwestern, fusion dish for the more daring and bringing up the rear is a solid, winter wear stew perfect for keeping your “deer” friends and family warm.

Virginia Venison & Blue Cheese Meatballs
For those fearful, a more stringent cheese like blue will lessen the “gamey taste” that some individuals detest. I use a good Stilton, but any good blue cheese will do.

  • 5 pounds Venison, ground
  • 1 bunch Scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2-pound Blue Cheese
  • 2 cups Breadcrumbs, unseasoned or saltines crushed

Combine well the blue cheese, scallions and breadcrumbs. Add venison and sour cream and turn over a few times. Roll mixture into small meatball sized balls. Cook thoroughly in a large cast iron frying pan with canola oil. Meatballs can be served on pasta or as an appetizer. Please don’t use BBQ sauce for dipping. That‘s just foul.

Pan Roasted Venison with Spicy Cranberry Mexican Cinnamon Sauce
I caught a Bobby Flay episode about 5 years ago, tried it and it worked well. I don’t use the port, just the gin. Plus, I marinated it for 4 days. Call me crazy.

  • Venison: 4 venison steaks, 6 ounces each
  • 1/2-cup Gin
  • 2 cups Port wine
  • 6 sprigs Thyme, fresh
  • 6  Juniper berries
  • 3 tbl Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine gin, port, thyme and juniper berries in a medium shallow baking dish. Add the venison and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes (or 4 days ☺)

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until almost smoking. Remove the venison from the marinade and shake off excess. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on 1 side until golden brown. Turn over, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes. Drizzle sauce over steaks.

Spicy Cranberry Mexican Cinnamon Sauce

  • 4 tbl Cold butter
  • 1 Onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2-cup Port wine
  • 1/2 cup Cranberry juice
  • 4 cups Chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp Mexican ground cinnamon (or regular ground cinnamon)
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat half the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, garlic, and carrots and cook until semi-soft. Raise the heat to high and add the port, cook until dry. Add the cranberry juice, stock, cinnamon, allspice, and cranberries and cook until a sauce consistency is formed. Add the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This sauce is also fabulous on pork, chicken and turkey.

Venison Cider Stew

  • 3-5lb Venison, shoulder or loins, cubed
  • 2 tsp  Allspice
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns
  • 1 tbl Rosemary
  • 1/2 gallon Apple Cider (from local area farms)
  • 1 bunch Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lb Bacon, slab not sliced
  • Light Dusting Flour
  • 1/4 lb Butter
  • 1  Onion, medium chopped
  • 2  Carrots large chopped
  • 2  Apples, large
  • 2  Celery, chopped
  • 2 cups Brown or beef stock
  • 1  Bay leaf

In a pestle and mortar, pulverize the allspice, peppercorns, and rosemary with a pinch of salt. Take 25% of the powder and set aside. In a bowl add the remaining 75% to 2 cups of cider and the parsley.
Cut the meat into 1” cubes and add to bowl with cider mixture making sure it’s all covered. Marinate for 12- 24 hours.

Cut the bacon slab into 1/2”cubes and fry them until crisp on the outside. Reserve enough of the bacon fat in the pan to brown the meat. Drain the Venison and reserve the liquid. Cover the meat with a light dusting of flour and quickly brown the meat in a skillet over high heat. Transfer meat to oven safe dish or Dutch oven.

In butter, sauté the onion, carrots apples and celery. Fold into meat mixture. Add bay leaf. And the remaining pulverized Allspice mixture. Now you have a choice. You can add the marinade or just the remaining cider. Use either/or both until the mixture is covered. Cook covered for 1 1/2 hours in a 350 degree oven or until meat is tender. Strain the liquid, skim any unwanted fat off the top and dredge the flour in to the liquid and thicken. Pour back to the Dutch Oven and re heat.

Serve over a bed of wild rice.

This last recipe is “deer” to my heart.


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