Venison is a delicious and healthy meat that many Colorado residents love to indulge in. People enjoy it because they can take part in every step of the process, from hunting the deer to butchering it and preparing the meat for their table. As a Boulder culinary school attendee, you are located in close proximity to places where you can hunt the animal or purchase the meat. Here are some tips for preparing venison:
Age the meat
If you are working with freshly harvested deer, you will want to age the meat. This allows it to break down slightly and become more tender. If you are using meat from a processor, they will likely have already aged it. Ask if you are not sure. To do it yourself, follow these steps:
- For dry aging: Game and Garden recommends cutting holes into a plastic storage container and placing the meat inside, adding the cover and refrigerating it between 34 and 37 degrees for seven to 10 days. Some people wait up to 14 days. Check the bin every couple of days and empty it of blood to allow proper airflow for the meat.
- For wet aging: Often people use this method after the meat has been frozen and thawed. According to The Atlantic, grocery stores also do this – almost 90 percent of beef found on their shelves is wet-aged. Place vacuum-sealed venison that is thawed in your refrigerator for up to ten days before cooking it.
Tenderize it and add spices
Venison is excellent when it is tender. Many people use dry rubs to add tasty spices like ginger or coffee, which help to break down the meat. You can find store-bought dry rubs if you’re in a pinch, but it’s exciting to make your own. Field and Stream’s Ultimate Wild Game Rub uses kosher salt and other seasonings. Rubs are great for coating a venison steak and leaving it in the refrigerator over night. When you’re ready, sear it and cook it on the grill it to medium-rare perfection.
Do not overcook
It is very easy to overcook venison, making it a hard, leathery and flavorless meal. Avoid this by remembering venison has very little fat so you need to cook it for less time. Use high heat and a quick cook time for venison burgers (think 10 minutes on a very hot grill), and always sear the meat first. Generally, venison should be cooked quickly to medium rare doneness in order to avoid overcooking. Flip your venison just one time to keep the juices intact and use a little bit of oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan or grill.
Always use a very sharp knife to cut venison. If you are cutting the meat before you cook, it is best to do so when it is still a little frozen. That makes it easier to cut. Provide a serrated steak knife for each individual to cut his or her meat at the table. The serration makes it easy to slice through the tender venison.