The hunt is over, and you’ve got that trophy buck hanging in your garage. Now you’re thinking to yourself what to do with it, burgers, sausages, goulash? You might be wondering, how to cook venison?

Far too often, I hear people complain that venison is “gamey.” What exactly does that mean? 

The reality is that gamey is not a taste. It’s not like, sweet or nutty or any other taste. More often than not, it’s used as a blanket term for game that was handled improperly or for people who are unfamiliar with eating game.

Handling

field dressing deer

The start of your meal happens in the field. Once you down that dream buck, your meal prep begins. 

One common factor for ruining good meat is adrenaline and lactic acid build-up. No, we’re not talking about yours but the deers. If you have had a poor shot and can’t find the deer, it’s better to wait it out.

The more you push the deer, the more lactic acid builds up, resulting in tainted meat. 

Once you have your deer on the dirt in front of you, act fast but diligently. The quicker you get the animal to cool, the better quality of meat you will have. This is because bacteria is fast to grow, especially in warmer weather. 

Processing

Another area where some may fail to take proper care is in the processing stage. It’s important to butcher your meat in a cool place. Fluctuating the temperature of the venison deteriorates the quality.

A deer can provide plenty of meat, so don’t be afraid to trim it. Remove all the fat; you can add pork or beef fat to your recipe later. Also, ensure to remove the silver skin and sinew; they make for unpleasant eating.

Age the meat properly. Aging meat can spoil or improve your venison drastically. If done correctly, you will enjoy some of the tastiest meat you ever had.

To dry-age venison takes between 7 and 14 days. The ideal temperature is 34 – 37 degrees farenheit. It’s best if done with the hide on and bone in to prevent excessive drying and muscle contraction.

Equipment

It’s essential to use the proper equipment for butchering. Many people use a power saw far too often. This gives rough cuts and plenty of bone marrow, which is not ideal. 

A boning knife and a fillet knife can handle most of the work of butchering a deer.

Packaging

vacuum packed venison

Without a doubt, the best method to store your deer is in the freezer. However, freezer burn is a real problem. 

There are two viable options of wrapping it to prevent freezer burn.

Vacuum pack: This removes all the air reducing any risk of drying out. It’s fast, and it’s simple. However, once you have vacuum sealed the bags, it’s essential to handle them with care as a punctured bag will quickly spoil your meat.

Wrapping: This is the old fashioned method but still works well today. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap. Next, use a waxy freezer paper and tightly wrap the meat you have just wrapped. Tuck the ends in and tape with masking tape.

Cooking

You’ve managed to get a prime piece of meat in front of you. Perfectly processed and fresh as the day you shot it.

Now you are ready to cook.

Depending on which cut you fancy, there is an abundance of recipes you could try. Just keep in mind that to not overcook steaks, a high heat grill will give a nice sear on the outside and a medium-rare in the center.

Conclusion

As you can see to get the most from your venison requires proper care and handling. Cooking is a small part of the whole process. To get the best quality meat on your plate takes a lot of careful preparation. Knowing how to cook venison means knowing how to prepare it.

Now that you’ve got the processing done, head over to our recipes, and find something to put on the menu tonight.