If you’re a diehard deer hunter then you probably love to eat venison, too, and likely are handy in the kitchen or manning the grill.
If so, you could ramp up your skills with just a few changes. Deer & Deer Hunting Editor-in-Chief Dan Schmidt offers five of his best deer tips to give you a leg up on your venison meals this season.
1. Take up smoking.
My dad is a master at smoking venison sausage, but he uses a real smokehouse, and it has taken him years to perfect the craft. It’s hard to describe why, but home- made sausage just tastes better. Today’s propane smokers are certainly a lot more handy than doing it the old-fashioned way, and the results are pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. Best part: It allows for smoking manageable batches of sausage, jerky and hind quarters.
2. Keep your cool.
Nothing is more frustrating than spending $6 on a jumbo bag of ice only to see it become tepid water after two days in the cooler. I’ve found the solution to that problem and discovered new ways to keep food fresher longer with a performance cooler. Engel was the first to market with these coolers, and the company’s products are virtually bomb-proof. Sweet features include hinged closures, a pitched floor with a drain plug and an air-tight food-grade silicone freezer gasket.
3. Seal the deal.
Vacuum sealers are all the rage for storing home-processed fish and venison. A new tactic (well, new to me) is to use the sealer for marinating meats faster and better than via traditional methods. I don’t like to marinate venison unless absolutely necessary, but some cuts such as neck roasts are better suited for it. Simply put the meat in a vacuum bag, add the marinade and seal it. The sealing action draws the juice right into the meat.
4. Be a slave to the grind.
Quality butcher shops are still the way to go when it comes to convenience, but you can’t always be sure what you’ll get back, especially with ground meat. With your own grinder, you dictate how much fat is added, if any, and how coarse the final product is. A quality grinder can easily pay for itself in just one deer season.
5. Pack a lunch.
I finally stopped fooling around with those wimpy soft-sided lunch bags and now pack a man-sized lunch into the new 13-quart cooler/dry box. This thing is the bomb. It features metal hasps and a sealed gasket in the lid for keeping a day’s worth of goodies cool, dry and secure.
Here’s a great dry rub recipe from our good friend Stacy Harris. Check out her site, www.GameandGarden.com for more insights, and visit ShopDeerHunting.com for her cookbooks that are jammed with super recipes, tips and more.
Best Dry Rub
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp ground smoked cumin
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients and rub thoroughly into the meat. Cover the meat and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. I like to leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours or overnight.