Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday at the Table: Venison

Please don't scroll down if you don't want to see a picture of a dead deer!!  There are a few live deer in the picture below...

First of all, thank you so much for all of the comments and ideas you gave me about my blog yesterday!!  Through these, and my own digging around, I figured out that it's my "Picasa" photo limit that's been reached, and that my old blog pictures are indeed on it, as well as the new blog, and some others... 3-4 years' worth!  I deleted some to buy me some time, and others have suggested that I can copy and paste URL codes from photo sites, such as Flickr and Photobucket as well.  Yea!!  You bloggers really are amazing!! I'm still having difficulty posting pictures though, even after deleting several posts.  It'll let me shrink my pictures way down, and post them, but only after giving me the warning screen repeatedly....  hmmm

Second, I thought Debbie's "Tuesday at the Table" link up would be a great way to share another big event in our family... my oldest son's first deer!  It's actually the first animal he's ever shot, although he's been hunting very hard with my husband most week-ends this fall,  and has had several shots.  If you're at all squeamish about dead animals, please don't scroll down, but we're all pretty proud of him right now, and I just had to share.

I'll spare you the pictures of the hanging hind quarters, and hide.  My husband and son partially butcher their game in the woods, removing the "insides", and any other inedible parts (hoofs, skin, some of the bones...).  They also use a hand meat saw to cut it into quarters to make it easier to carry out of the woods.  Since this was my son's first deer, he chose to haul the hide  a mile and a half out himself, in addition to carrying half of the deer.  He's going to try to tan it himself (!).  Wildlife officials also require that you keep part of the head to prove that you shot a legal animal.  In this case, he had a "doe" tag.  It's also put into cloth "deer bags" to keep it clean.  Once we get it home, the meat is cleaned further and hung up to "bleed".  Sorry, no other way to put it.  It also is better (IMO) to let it age some.  We've butchered animals right away, and the meat is very tough.  Aging allows it to "tenderize", but it must be kept cold (not freezing).

Once we're ready to butcher, we clear off our big kitchen counter and get the knives out.  We will be putting out hand grinder into action, as well as our vacuum food sealer, and I've been busy using up as much as I can from our freezer this week for meals to make room for all of the meat.  The ground meat can be used for chili, tacos, just about anything BUT hamburgers, as it's super lean.  The steaks we love to cut up, wrap in bacon and throw on the grill, and the roasts must be cooked in a "wet" fashion (slow cooker, pressure cooker), as the meat becomes much too tough if over done with a traditional roast (learned that the hard way).  Again, this is because it's so lean.  I'm always eager to hear about new deer and elk recipes though!!
True story here... When I first me my husband, I ate very little meat, because I'm such an animal lover.  As our relationship got more and more serious, I asked him to take me out hunting with him to see if I could deal with this part of his life.  Although I still to this day can't kill even spiders or mice, I do like knowing where my food comes from, and knowing that it's as natural as it can possibly be.  I do believe that eating deer and elk is much healthier, as it's incredibly lean, has tons of the good omegas, no hormones, antibiotics, etc...

I think it's important that my kids learn this as well.  Butchering animals is a skill that is becoming lost in our society (kind of like sewing).  My husband and I have had to learn it from friends and through trial and error.  Ironically my grandpa was a butcher.  His saw is the saw my husband still uses in the woods.  But I never learned this skill from him.  It's really incredible how much time and work went into my son's first deer... many mornings up an hour before dawn for this teen-ager.  All of us will help butcher it very soon, which also takes a lot of time and effort.  My kids both have some good knife skills now though!  Growing our garden and hunting makes us all appreciate the real value of the food that we eat...


  1. That is awesome! Way to go! It is great you are teaching your boys useful skills.
    My dad went deer hunting every year when I was a kid. Every fall there would be a deer carcass hanging from our swing-set in the back yard. :)
    He usually butchered it himself, with occasional help from my uncles, but as he got older he had a company do it for him. I think we helped once in a while. The girls in our family did not get to hunt, though my cousins did.
    My two favorite venison meals, were cutlets with onions and stroganaff.
    He doesn't hunt anymore, do to age and injuries, so we don't have venison anymore. :(

  2. Hunting isn't something I am familiar with, but I can appreciate your story and the connection to the table....

  3. We could really use some of the butchering skills here some time soon!!! I am hoping when we retire to raise some of our meat too.... cow/pig/lamb? But I'll pay the butcher to come to kill and wrap for the freezer.

  4. I believe that hunters have more appreciation and respect for nature, animals and the environment, than your average vegetarian! But that's just my opinion. We give our neighbors permission to hunt deer on our farm, and they have been so kind to give us some of their meat. These deer feed on our corn all summer and this makes their meat very tasty! My favorite venison recipe is probably chili with jalapeño corn bread or beer bread.