Venison is a European culinary term ideally used to refer to a rich textured, usually red-colored meat of different kinds of deer, hare, wild boars and also the members of the goat family, generally meat of hunted animals. More often, in general usage, it is being used only to refer to different kinds of deer meat. Venison recipes formerly included meats of the reindeer, red deer, moose, elk, antelope, arctic hare, brown hare, blue hare, the wild boar and the ibex, but today they include meat of animals in the gamut of the deer family. Venison dishes include steaks, jerkies, minced meat dishes, sausages, tournados and roasts. Some of the popular venison recipes of all times include deerburger meatloaf, venison stew, venison sausage and grilled venison recipes.
History of Venison
The term Venison is found to have Latin origin and it seems to have been introduced to the English cuisine by Norman influence. The practice of eating deer meat became popular in England amongst the aristocratic class with hunting becoming a favorite pastime of the Royal in forests specially created for them called Royal Forests.
Culinary uses of Venison
Venison is used in the preparation of a number of dishes. It is mostly preferred to beef as it is richer and creamier in texture and flavor and is of a leaner variety. It is a much favored meat when it comes to dishes like jerky, tournedos, roasted meat dishes and sausages. Venison owing to its healthy composition is preferred over pork, beef and lamb.
Popular Venison Recipes
Venison, as already mentioned is included in different classes of venison recipes, namely steaks, jerky, sausages, stews, tournedos and roasts. A large number of venison dishes belonging to these categories are made in combination with different ingredients in both traditional and innovative ways. A few of these are discussed here:
• Venison with Burgundy- This dish includes cooking venison in burgundy wine in a slow cooker along with mushrooms and onion soup seasoning.
• Roasted Venison- A delicious sauced roasted meat dish which is prepared by roasting venison with a sauce made from sweetened wine with clove, cinnamon and ginger seasonings. Bread crumb garnish may be added to spruce up the dish.
• Venison Jerky- Though the dish is usually prepared by drying out strips of venison, one of the classic venison recipes for this dish may include marinating strips of the meat in sweetened red wine and soy sauce mixture with soy sauce and five spice powders.
• Venison Meatballs – A delicious version of this dish may be made by simmering meatballs made of ground venison, grated parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs with milk, garlic powder and parsley seasonings, in a suitable sauce, mostly spaghetti sauce.
• Venison sausage- a recipe for this includes venison in combination with another meat, preferably pork, with white pepper, black pepper, nutmeg and sage seasonings.
Apart form the dishes discussed here, venison recipes include a lot more dishes from the European, American and other cuisines.
Cuisines Commonly Cooking Venison Recipes
Venison is one of the most commonly eaten meat of the American cuisine especially in the Mid Southern, Mid Western, Mississippi and Appalachian cuisines. As it is healthier than beef, it is used as a substitute for it. Apart from this, venison enjoys popularity in different European cuisines and New Zealand.
Best Ways of Cooking Venison Dishes
Venison tastes best when certain norms are followed while cooking it. To being with, the cut of the meat plays an important role in determining its texture when cooked. Dearmeat when cut in three specific ways as discussed further are going to yield meat which will go into making the best dishes for a given recipe of the meat.
As a rule of thumb, it is always better to handle meat when it is in a slightly frozen state.
• Bias Cut – This is a cut of meat made by holding cutting a piece at an angle preferably 45 degrees to the grain. The meat cut in this manner is expected to be tender and convenient for eating as otherwise the meat tends to have long fibers which tend to make chewing it inconvenient. Venison recipes made with steaks, like flank and skirt steaks require bias cut meats for yielding the best dishes. Even meat for London broil, brisket and back strap recipes are best prepared with bias cut meat.
• Shredded Venison- Venison dishes like barbecue dishes or Tex-Mex dishes require venison in this form. A good way of shredding venison would be to first cut the meat through a bias cut, arrange them together as in a stack and then cut them up into thin small strips.
• Cubed Venison – Venison recipes like those for stews and kabobs require the venison to be cubed. For stewing smaller cubes are required but for kabobs cubes of bigger sizes are required. One good way for cubing venison is to first cut the meat into elongated strips and then cut it into small cubes.
In the case of venison, the process of freezing the meat is very important for preserving its quality. The fat should be trimmed off as much as possible. The flavor of the meat should be enhanced by using a cooking medium that complements its flavors like butter, bacon, fat from beef or even a good quality cooking oil. Brining of venison is prohibited as it prevents the meat from being browned properly and moreover it also dries the meat of all its succulence. Venison, being a lean meat, is prone to becoming tough while cooking. Therefore it is always recommended to cook it in a liquid medium. Basting or braising it with sauces while cooking or simmering it with cooking liquids or slow cooking it with cooking juices are some of the ways in which the succulence and the consequent tenderness of the meat are going to be preserved. Care should be taken to never over-cook the meat as like all other lean meats, venison has a tendency to dry out and get tough or chewy if overcooked. Even steaks may be prepared in the presence of moisture. Roasted, pan-fried or grilled meats should be covered with a wrapper for sometime before being served so that the juices in the meat spread throughout evenly.
Venison can be washed in a solution of vinegar if it smells unpleasant before cooking. It can also be treated with a slight salt solution for the same purpose. Wine is one of the best mediums to use for marinating venison. Vinegar and wine vinegar may also be used for the purpose. The meat may be cooked in a number of tomato based sauces like stewed, soupy, saucy or gravy tomatoes Grapefruit juice and for a delicious tangy flavoring orange or lemon juices may also be added to the sauces in which the meat is cooked.
Nutritional Worth of Venison
Venison, being rich in essential nutrients for the human body and poor in saturated fats, unlike a lot of other meats, is one of the healthiest meats for humans. It is extremely high in protein and vitamin B1 and vitamin B2( riboflavin) which are vital energy sources for the human body. Venison recipes are recommended for people deficient in physiological iron as deermeat provides more iron for a given quantity of calorie and fat intake than beef or other comparable meats.
Though venison is one of the healthiest meats, it may not be suitable for consumption by people with certain medical conditions. One example is of those for whom purine intake is restricted- the ones having problems like gout or kidney stones which are aggravated by the consumption of purines due to abnormal amassing of uric acid in the body. A disease called Chronic Wasting Disease was found to have infected consumers of Deermeat in Scandinavian and USA farms, though the major suppliers, the farms of New Zealand, have been declared free of contaminated venison. However as most of the venison in the USA is imported from New Zealand, the probability of being infected with the diseases seems to be quite low.
Buying and Storing Venison
Venison is sold packaged with the date of sell stamp. It is always recommended to go for the freshest stock by checking on the sale date stamp. Dark color flesh, fine grained texture and white fat should be the criteria for purchasing a given packet of venison. Venison is best preserved frozen in the refrigerator. It is advisable to store it in the original sealed pack as far as possible without contaminating it. If a part of used venison is to be stored, it is better to wrap up the meat in an aluminum foil or a food wrapper and store it in cool temperatures. Though frozen venison is known to remain intact in the frozen state for about 4-6 months, it is always advisable to consume the meat completely as soon as it is bought in a fresh state.