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Autumn’s Here-Really

October 3, 2010

A white-tailed deer

Image via Wikipedia

No Frost, but still chilly

Greetings, dear reader.  Well we didn’t get the frost that Mr. Weatherman was predicting for the GBA, but it is still pretty chilly.

What I was expecting

Pretty, very pretty with a fantastic sunrise this morning.  Classic autumn morning, where the steam rises up from your coffee cup and you use both hands to hold it, as it feels so good against the morning chill.

The soybean harvest is well under way in the GBA.  We had some rain early Saturday, and that put a little *HOLD* on the harvesting, but with a little dry off I suspect activity will resume fairly soon.

For the past week, we have been busy processing meat.  Meat as in venison.  You see, last weekend was the Youth Deer Hunt, and Junior had the opportunity and harvested a nice, fat doe last Saturday evening.  Yesterday we put the finishing touches on the process, grinding and mixing twenty some pounds of venison-burger, which is a blend of venison with about 20% ground pork added. We are still smoking the thinner rib meat for jerky. And the steaks and roasts have been cut, trimmed, wrapped and frozen.

Venison Processing

So here is a quick review of the journey from *deer* to *food*.   BANG!  Junior fires a 12 gauge slug into a fat doe.  He makes a clean kill shot, and the doe dies instantly.  He watches, and waits patiently for a few minutes, just to be sure.  I walk over and join him and we high five.  He tells me the story.  I point and grunt and he gets his knife out, slits the doe’s belly, carefully, from the crotch to and through the ribs.  He removes the entrails, saving the heart and liver in a zip lock bag.  The rest of the gut pile is removed and left to return to the soil.

We drag the doe back to the truck and return home.  He tells the story to the rest of the family.  The story is embellished, and gets longer with more details.  The doe is hoisted into the air our our barn with a rope around its neck.  Junior cuts the skin around the neck and down to the previous cut through the ribs.  He removes the skin and places it under the hanging carcass, to capture the fluids that will drip off overnight.  Being that the nighttime low temp is expected to be in the forties, we allow the carcass to hang, rather than processing completely that night.

After church in the morning, we get back to cutting.  The animal is cut into quarters, and the head removed.  Using fillet knives we “bone out” each of the quarters, except for the neck, which is cut into roast size pieces with a special hack saw-like saw.  The neck roasts are one of the most delicious cuts, after an especially long time in the slow cooker.

As we bone out the carcass, the meat is separated into 3 piles,  steaks/roasts, burger meat and jerky meat.  We prefer the steaks, so the goal is to get as many uniform size steaks as we can.  If the portion is really thin, it ends up being cured and seasoned for jerky and later goes into the smoker.  If it is not jerky, and too small to be a steak it goes into the bowl for burger.  This bowl (or bowls) is later run through the meat grinder, and the gristle, known to hunters as “silverskin” is tediously removed. The silverskin is notoriously tough, chewy and flavorless, even foul tasting.  So a large portion of the processing time is spent removing this tough, connective tissue.

And the rest of the story is wrapping and labeling.  Trying to get uniform serving size portions and the right number is important, too.  And if you don’t do a good job of labeling, well you end up later in the year with a meal or two, disaffectionately known as a *Mystery Meat* supper.

So now you know the process of going from here:

Whitetail deer - A buck and a doe

to here:

Venison meat - ready to be cooked

Hunting is a huge part of the Autumn Season. Please remember that during the autumn, deer activity gets especially heavy, and they can appear in the road in microseconds.  If you are a driver, you must be ever vigilant in awareness, to avoid wrecking your vehicle.  And this applies to my dear readers in the city as well.  Please be careful.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    October 5, 2010 3:01 am

    So I have come across a venison steak, it is already dead, cut and in my freezer. What is the best way to grill it? I mean, which spices and seasonings should I use. I know it is different then chicken, so I want to treat it differently ( no soaking in lemon juice for 24 hours). I mean I have got my steak, my grill and my spices. Help me make a meal I have never had before, what is a good veggie to grill along side the steak. And any other tips for cooking this rare cut, for a city boy, would be greatly appreciated.

    • Uncle Milton permalink*
      October 5, 2010 11:23 am

      The most important tip I can offer in preparing venison is to prepare it RARE. About everything you know about preparing store bought steaks of beef will hurt your success here, because venison is so lean. For your first venison steak, here is what I would recommend:

      Get your grill HOT, HOT HOT! Lightly season both sides of the venison steak with salt and pepper. If it is thicker than 3/4″ use a fork to drive the seasoning into the meat. Bring a serving plate, fork and knife and two cans of beer and the steak to the grill, and place the steak on the grill, while noting the time. Crack the first beer and drizzle about a tablespoon onto the steak. Each time you sip that beer drizzle another tablespoon onto the steak. In TWO MINUTES flip the steak. We cut our steaks to be about 3/4″, and usually remove them from the grill after two minutes on the second side. The goal here is to have browned both sides slightly, about 1/8″ deep with a dark red center. It will NOT be pink like beef, ever. So remove the steak after two minutes on side two, cut it slightly in the middle, check the color as noted, and serve. By seasoning only with salt and pepper, you get the full flavor of the venison. If the steak is tough or hard to cut, or chewy you need a new timepiece because it is overcooked. Since there is no fat (marbling) like in store-bought beef it toughens VERY FAST, and must be served rare.

      The remainder of that first beer and the second complement the venison like nothing else. As you savor and enjoy, query your taste buds to see what other spices or herbs would complement this meat meal. My hunch is that they will reply …”None”.

      Anon: please let me know how this works out for you, I am very interested to know all the details…Milton

  2. anonymous permalink
    October 10, 2010 9:28 pm

    I tried your suggestions and it worked out great. I used domestic Blue, which we know isn’t as good as imported, but I digress. My friend suggested I wrap a piece of it in bacon, because honestly, what doesn’t taste great wrapped in bacon? Althought, the steak I grilled your way ( I had 2), was more what I was looking for. I mean yes you can deep fry a fish and cover it in tartar sauce, but then what part of the fish are you tasting, the mayo or the oil? Perfect amount of time on the grill as well, at first it seemed like it was not cooking at all. I just had to fight my manly instict to believe I know everything about my grill, and trust you, it really paid off. So thank you again, on more soild advice.

  3. October 11, 2010 10:11 am

    Fantastic! It does seem like too short an amount of time, when you talk about it, but one can always put it back on.

    Now if you are ever grilling duck or goose breasts wrap those in bacon. When the bacon *falls in love* with the goose, shrinking and becoming well browned, then your goose is ready.

    I am so glad it worked out for you Max.

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