Organic Meat, Simple Prep and Honest Food: Venison is the Best

Scott Rea's rack of venison is easy to make.

Scott Rea’s rack of venison is easy to make.

As much as I enjoy reading about and eating good food, there’s something to be said about the simple things in life.

In the 32 years I’ve been in the writing biz I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to different areas of the United States. Not as much in the Northeast, but I’ll solve that one day. I like seeing new places, experiencing new foods and ideas, and meeting folks. Through work and family trips I’ve also been fortunate to visit Europe, Canada and Mexico.

Almost all of these trips have involved meals with good ol’ basic foods. I’m not adverse to trying exotic stuff; a few years ago in Oslo, I had whale meat. Wasn’t too good. I’ve had a few highbrow ones, too. The ones with three or four forks, spoons and knives, white-jacketed waiters filling water glasses and elaborately detailed dishes almost too gorgeous to eat.

The first time I remember one like that I was in the eighth grade in New Orleans at a defunct French Quarter restaurant, the Andrew Jackson. I was agog at the tablecloths, numerous glasses and silverware, and servers who — honestly — would not let a beverage glass get less than half full before topping it. They had servers who did nothing but bring bread and butter! Servers who did nothing but clean the table and use a funny little thing to scrape away crumbs!

Those are fun now and then. But I’m more of a “grocery store sushi in the parking lot” guy. A guy who enjoys a tin of sardines — why, oh why, did the Possum brand go away? — and saltines with some sharp cheddar cheese and a cold soda for a hunting lunch. Burgers and fries, steak and taters, good veggies and co’beer, three fingers of Jack over ice and a fire. I could knock out a bowl of this Dirty Rice that Hank Shaw writes about and ask for seconds. Mmmm. In short, I’m interested in food, cultures and will eat just about anything, but the simpler the better.

SEE ALSO: Our Best Recipes, Tips and More in the ShopDeer Cookbook Collection

If you take a look at the recipes we’ve done here the last few years from our good friends, you’ll see simplicity. Stacy Harris, Scott Leysath, Rick and Jen with Food for Hunters and others all have something in common: fresh ingredients, simple preparation and nothing too elaborate. Uncle Ted gave us a great, simple recipe with Vernor’s Ginger Ale and backstraps. Easy!

I’ve been with Leysath at shows or events and heard people say, “Oh, I could NEVER do anything like that” while he’s easily knocking out in less than 10 minutes some venison steaks and a tangy berry-jalapeno sauce. I merely shake my head. You can’t cook meat 3-4 minutes on each side in a skillet or on a grill and make a simple sauce with berries or marmalade, a spot of wasabi or jalapeno and a dash of cream? C’mon. A 10-year-old can do that.

I recently ran across some videos by Scott Rea, a butcher from St. John’s, Worcester, across the pond in the U.K. I think they’re super. Rea is a common dude who decided to turn his butchering skills into a video series to help others, and those videos have taken off like a rocket. He explains things well and shows what to do, how to do it and then prepares a dish.

Check out this one Rea did for a rack of venison. He uses Roe deer for much of his venison work but you can do the same with white-tailed deer, too.


If you have some ground venison in your freezer, give these tasty burgers a try!

Burgers with Cheese and Jalapenos
2 pounds ground beef
3 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons jalapeno peppers, minced
2 tablespoons onion, grated
1 tablespoon steak seasoning

Combine meat, onion, Greek seasoning, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Form mixture into eight thin patties. In a separate bowl, mix jalapeno pepper and cream cheese. Spoon cheese mixture onto 4 of the patties. Take the remaining patties and place them on top. Seal edges and press to an even thickness about 1 1/2 inch. Cover and place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preheat grill. Place burger patties on grill and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Turn once. Serve with buns and condiments.


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