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Born a Texan, but traveled the US extensively.  Now staying on the East coast.

Monday, January 10, 2011

going back

Some days i seem to wallow,
as it were, in the past.
My dad has been coming to mind.
A neighbor brought some venison over,
my dad used to hunt yearly.
I understand how to cook it,
i love to eat it.
i cooked it two ways.

Working with clementines,
these are my mom's favorites.
The rinds were canied,
the pulp was used in a sauce for fish,
The recipe is as follows:
Hunters Stew
Made with Venison

Venison is one of the more misunderstood meats I have encountered.
As a young man, my Dad hunted deer in the rural Eastern part of France, Alsace to be exact.
When I was young he continued to hunt in Texas and so I was exposed to Venison from a very early age.  As an adult, I encountered many people with bad experiences with venison and frankly, I wondered why.

There were some “field” facts my dad taught me, that were second nature in my head, but I began to encounter hunters who had no idea about any of them.
To be clear, I never shot a deer, but had no problem field dressing it once it was dead.
So first the simple facts:
1.    Where one shoots a deer is very important. 
a.    A gut shot will ruin a lot of meat for many reasons; including the spread of septis from the digestive organs and that the deer does not die immediately.
b.    A heart or a neck shot will ruin either the heart or the neck meat, but the deer will be dead instantly.
2.    Field dressing of a deer should be done on the spot and the contents buried.  You do not drag a deer to a car to clean it.  Field dressing removes the digestive organs and the blood from the deer.
3.    On male deer you must also immediately remove two scent glands in the hindquarters.  If those glands are ruptured, the meat is spoiled.
Too many hunters do not know these things and it is a shame.

On to the recipe, which was my dad’s, but cooked many times by my mom

Ingredients:
1.    1 pound Venison, cut into 1 to 1½ inch cubes, sinew removed
2.    2 onions, coarsely chopped
3.    3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
4.    1-cup olive oil
5.    5 juniper berries
6.    3 bay leaves
7.    2 cups burgundy wine
8.    1-tablespoon parsley
9.    1-teaspoon salt
10.    1-teaspoon black pepper corns
11.    Water to cover
This is the basics, there are other vegetables that can be added – celery, turnips, parsnips, cabbage, peppers, mushrooms, carrots and any other vegetable that might be available or your favorite (I would NOT add tomatoes).  The ones I add are underlined

Cooking utensil essentials:
1 cast iron Dutch oven with a cover

The venison, salt, pepper, ½ cup wine, ½ cup olive oil, juniper berries and onions are combined in a bowl and allowed to marinate, overnight is preferable.
Remove the cubes and allow to drain (back into the marinade)
Heat the remaining olive oil on the stove and when hot sear the cubes of venison
Add the remaining marinade and bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour
Add parsley, remaining wine, vegetables and cook for an additional 1½ hours
Check to make sure that there is always some liquid in the pot (add water or wine)
Remove the juniper berries and bay leaves before serving

Venison Steak Marinade
a homemade barbecue

Ingredients:
1.  2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2.  1 teaspoon mustard seed
3.  1 tablespoon paprika
4.  1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
5.   3 tablespoons real maple syrup
6.  1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
7.  2 teaspoons salt

mix well and marinade the venison overnight in the refrigerator.

Cook at a broil setting for 10 minutes each side.
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