Chef Jay's Venison TipsFriday, November 8, 2019
This month's blog is for the deer hunters! I'm sure you have heard, just as I have, "I just don't like venison, it's too gamey." Well, chances are it's because it wasn't handled and aged properly. I love to hunt but as a chef I consider myself a deer consumer not a deer head collector, though I do have some nice ones. I love to make a variety of sausages and goetta. Here is how I handle venison and if you try it you will never look back.
First, field dress the deer immediately and rinse the cavity as soon as possible. Take some twine or sip ties with you to close the cavity after field dressing so it doesn't get full of leaves and dirt as you drag it out. If it isn't cold out and you are driving a few hours, stop and get a few bags of ice to put in there to start cooling the carcass down. You want to get it cooling as soon as possible.
Now, here is the important part. We have all taken a deer to a processor on opening day and as you are checking in you see they are already cutting deer that came in earlier. That is why the venison isn't good. It is called cutting green, meaning the meat isn't aged before it is cut. Go to a processor that has a cooler. Many of them do hang deer for a few days before they cut them or will if you ask, but pay them extra to hang your deer SKIN ON FOR 14 DAYS and then cut it. I have a refrigerator in my basement where I hang and age my game myself. If you want to do this at home, to to stay around 34 degrees. You will find the hide harder to remove but it is well worth the extra effort. I also do all my own butchering so I know it is cut exactly how I want it and what is in every package I wrap.
You will find that the aging process greatly improves the flavor and tenderness of your venison. My wife came from a non-hunting family but now frequently asks, "can we have deer tonight?" Do yourself a favor and try aging your deer before you cut it. It is well worth the effort.
Chef Jay Snider
TPCC Executive Chef
Anonymous, 11/8/2019 3:20:16 PM EST