If you’ve never cooked venison meat underground, you have no idea what you’re missing. I experienced this age-old way of slow-cooked meat for the first time this week while hunting in Texas, and I must say it is nothing short of sensational.
Cooking meat underground is an ancient tradition for many cultures. My buddy Jon Heaton showed the Deer & Deer Hunting crew how it’s done. To quote Jon, “Who needs a slow cooker when you have a shovel?” After partaking in the whole process — and the succulent meal — I must say he is on to something!
STEP 1: SHOOT A DEER:
I shot this mature doe last weekend in West Texas at Patterson Ranch near Aspermont..
STEP 2: SKIN YOUR DEER:
My buddy Jon Heaton knows his way around a skinning knife.
STEP 3: PROCESS THE MEAT:
After meat is chilled, de-boned and trimmed, cut into bite-sized piece and place in tinfoil boats with seasonings and sides of your choice (onions, potatoes, carrots, etc.)
STEP 4: ROUND UP SOME PRIME FIREWOOD:
Best options are mesquite, cherry, oak and hickory. This is mesquite.
STEP 5: BUILD A FIRE:
Let the wood burn down to the point where all you have left are hot coals.
STEP 6: DIG A HOLE:
Make the whole twice as wide as your tinfoil trays and about three or four times as deep. Sandy soil will require a deeper hole, as to retain the heat when cooking meat underground.
STEP 7: LAY DOWN A BED OF COALS:
Be generous with the coals, but don’t overload the hole, otherwise it will be too hot.
STEP 8: PLACE THE TINFOIL BOATS ON THE COALS:
Time to put the meat underground. The coals will be HOT! Don’t burn yourself.
STEP 9: COVER WITH MORE COALS:
A little flame is OK because the dirt will soon cool off the coals.
STEP 10: COVER UP THE HOLE:
It’s always helps to have a buddy pitch in during this step.
STEP 11: CHECK FOR HOT SPOTS:
If there are hot spots, that means heat is escaping. Cover those spots with extra soil and tamp it down firm to help keep the heat under the ground. After the hole is filled in, add more coals to the top of the ground. Make a small heap of coals over the filled-in hole and let them smolder for the rest of the day.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to make your venison pit in area that is free of dry leaves, brush and other combustible materials. Let the pit do its work. This in-ground method will cook your meal over the course of an entire day. Allow at least 8 to 10 hours.
STEP 12: UNEARTH YOUR DINNER:
Removing the meat underground. Be careful not to puncture the tinfoil boats.
STEP 13: HEAD FOR THE KITCHEN:
Can you smell the smoky sweetness?
STEP 14: GET READY FOR THE BEST MEAL OF DEER CAMP WEEK!
Let me tell you here and now: This is one of the best meals you’ll have this fall. It just takes some planning and a little bit of sweat equity.
Special thanks to Jon and the Patterson Ranch near Aspermont, Texas, for sharing this step-by-step tutorial with us.