Saturday, May 14, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Venison

I know. Lots of people turn their noses up at eating deer. After all, most of us have seen Bambi. Who wants to eat anything that's that cute? And we were all sad when the hunters shot his mother. Right? Then there are those who've never eaten anything that didn't come from the meat section of their local grocery store.
Let me lay some misconceptions aside.
1)Yes. Bambi was cute, but they aren't still that little and cute by the time hunting season rolls around.
2)They lose all appearance of cute when they keep eating the stuff in your garden. And they seem to like the stuff in your garden better than anything else.
3)The deer have led a much happier, more sanitary, and humane life than anything you've bought out of your big chain, grocery store meat case.
4)No, they don't need to keep living that humane life forever. Do you know how many deer there are?? Trust me, the population could stand to be thinned down a bit before they eat everything and start starving to death. We are not currently in danger of over-hunting.
5)When prepared properly, they are delicious. Besides, they are much leaner than beef, and aren't we all trying to eat healthier?

There. Now that we've blazed through all your doubts and misconceptions, find yourself a hunter and trade him some baked goods and/or homemade preserves for some deer meat. Hunters that really enjoy hunting always have more deer than they can fit in their freezer.
There are tons of ways to completely ruin venison. Trust me, I've had my share of poorly cooked deer, but there are many excellent ways to prepare it as well (one of my favorites is for it to be roasted long and slow, and then turned into barbeque - mmmmmmmmmm!). If you want to make it seem more like beef, the following is a good method.

Venison in Mushroom Gravy

Deer meat - any cut but the tenderloin (good luck getting that from a hunter anyway); you don't want to waste the tenderloin with this method of cooking. Save it for grilling.
Beef stock (or water and beef base)
Red Wine or Milk
Onions                        Mushrooms
Butter                         Olive oil
Flour                          Seasoned meat tenderizer
Pepper                       Worcestershire sauce

This does take a couple of days to prepare (don't worry, it's easy), so think about it in advance. If your deer is frozen, take it out to thaw the morning of the day before you want to cook it. It needs to be thawed by evening-time, the day before you want to cook. If I've confused you, sorry. Ex: If you want to eat it Friday evening, lay it out to thaw Thursday morning. There you go, that's less muddled.
The evening before you want to cook it, cut it into smallish chunks and put it in a glass dish. Cover it with buttermilk, put a lid or plastic wrap on top and put it in the fridge overnight.
The next morning pour it into a colander to drain.
There was more meat here than there seemed to be. Kay used our largest colander.
Rise it with cold water and leave it to drain while you prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Lightly saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil and butter.
What? You don't see the mushrooms? Confession time. We didn't have fresh mushrooms - since they were canned we just threw them in the pot later.
Scoop out the onions and mushrooms with a slotted spoon, leaving the butter and oil in the pan, and set the pan off the element for the time being. Put them and the venison in the crock pot. I know, I know. The mushrooms aren't in this picture either. Trust me, they were in the final product.
Add flour to your butter and oil to make a rue. Yes I know. We didn't get all of the onions out of the pan. It's okay. Everything ends up in the same pot anyway.
Slowly brown your rue, then make your gravy using the stock, or water and beef base. Don't add quite as much liquid as you want because you will do one of the following at the end: Add 1 cup of wine, or 1 cup of milk. I like it with the red wine, but we didn't have any yesterday, so we used the milk instead. It's just as good that way. Also, add 5 or 6 healthy dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and season to taste with seasoned meat tenderizer and pepper.
Then pour your gravy over everything else in the pot and cook on low all day.
No - there is no 3 or 4 hour option for this. Not if you want just any old cut of venison to be tender.
This is great served over rice, just like beef tips, but I was in the mood for potatoes yesterday.
Mmmmmmm - it was good, and if you look close enough, you can see some mushrooms in there. :D
This was Kay's bowl. There are green beans under the potatoes and meat (shudder). I like green beans, but not all mixed in with my other stuff.

I know I used the word we in here, but in all honesty, I did none of the work this time. Kay and Bree cut the meat off the deer shoulder Thursday evening, and I told Kay how to prepare it for the crock pot as I was running around trying to get out the door for Beenie's guitar lessons yesterday morning. So, thanks girls. It was delicious. 
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  1. ahhhh, venison. I am one of those people who "snub their nose at it"...yes, I've tried it...but for now...I'll stick to our pasture raised beef, pork and chicken:)

    On the other hand, my aunts and uncles love venison and it's about the only meat they eat! Good thing they can balance out the people who can't stand it.

    Gotta love variety - God created so much of it, didn't He?!

    Have a blessed day,

  2. Yes, God did create an amazing amount of variety.
    You are very fortunate to have pasture raised beef, pork and chicken.
    We are blessed, as Ri's, finance's father is an avid hunter and generously gives us his extra venison.