By Tony Chavez, Live Great Food
Nothing is as primitive or fascinating as the practice of a good old-fashioned Hunt. You can find evidence supporting that notion in countless cave paintings spanning the entirety of the globe and dating back to prehistoric times and even into a time when the Neanderthals roamed around. Man is captivated by the beauty in the beast. These paintings are often of animals, men, women, children, stars, handprints and of course, hunting. Confidently, we can assume man has been fascinated with hunting since his inception.
Despite the many controversies surrounding the consumption of animal products, there seems to be a common place and morality in the idea that if you choose to eat animals, it is best to do so in the most natural way possible. Cage-free, pasture raised, grass fed, hormone free, all-natural organic and local animals are prized as the “clean” option of eating (clean often alluding to being free of the pollutants/additives that come with big business and their “unsavory choices” in how they decide to cut corners to cheapen production and cut other costs with very little regard towards the life of the animal or the end consumer).
I have heard it said a million times in a million different ways, “There is a reason we refer to nature as Mother—she has everything you need.” Here in the North Woods, we find ourselves spoiled with an abundance of Wilderness to get lost in.
Hunting is cathartic at times and nerve wracking at others. It is a practice just as almost anything else you do; if you want to be successful you have to genuinely fully emerge yourself in the practice. Learn the patterns of the animal, their movements, eating habits, traveling patterns, their environment. With persistence and dedication, I promise the work will eventually pay off and the overwhelming sense of gratitude will be worth every moment spent in the trees.
In harvesting a deer, you are immediately met with a mountain of responsibilities (many of which are time sensitive, and for the sake of space in this article we will not be touching on) however once the carcass is cleaned and hanging, you have the entire animal to do with what you’d like. From venison roasts and steaks to stew meat, scraps for ground and sausage, right down to bones for broth. You even have the pelt to tackle depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. Nothing goes to waste and you’re able to fill your freezer in preparation for the winter months ahead. We are able to honor the life of an animal by ensuring nothing goes to waste and is truly appreciated.
Quick Tips & Notes For Cooking With Venison:
1. Season and marinate
• Because the meat is so lean, it takes on flavors well and truly shines in a robust rub or even in the again process.
• Don’t be afraid of a long marinade. Just don't over salt, I love using garlic and Herbs to complement the natural elements.
2. Know your cuts and cook them accordingly
• Know your steaks and know your roasts. A good rule of thumb: High Heat - short cook time for steaks, and the exact opposite for roasts, low heat - long cook time.
3. Add pork fat to your grind if it's too lean for you
• Ask any of your local butchers, I promise they’re more than happy to accommodate.
• I personally prefer to stay in a 10-15% fat to venison ratio, unless I’m making sausage, in which I'm somewhere between 25-32% fat to venison.
4. Don’t be intimidated. Let all preconceived notions go and give it a shot!