Deer necks often are tossed because hunters don’t want to fool with them, but that’s quite a mistake to make because of the amount of great venison available.
I think part of it is a regional thing. In the Southeast I’ve never heard, with any regularity, hunters discussing the neck meat while in camp or at the skinning shed. Occasionally someone might mention using the neck but not often enough for me to recall the last time I heard it. I think that’s a two-part issue: we have a brazillion deer in the Southeast so it’s easy to take the hindquarters, loins and shoulders, and hunters are fearful of the neck muscles being tough.
The latter is bunk when prepared correctly, though, and that means slow-cooking. Scott Leysath has mentioned this a few times before, as has Tiffany Haugen in this video. The tougher or more sinewy cuts of meat require slow cooking, braising and patience. The result can be great.
Rick and Jen with Food for Hunters created this super recipe for deer neck meat and it’s definitely one to try. They’re the authors of a great cookbook, Hunting for Food, available here.
“This is such an easy, foolproof recipe,” Jen writes on their site, Food for Hunters. “You will end up with flavorful, tender meat every single time, and it works just as perfectly with venison neck. After braising for two and a half hours, all the sinew and fat in the neck melts to become as tender as any pot roast you’ve ever had. This is a hearty meal that’s a great way to utilize venison neck meat.”
Braised Venison Neck with Cream Cheese Polenta
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 hours
– one side of boneless venison neck
– 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– all-purpose flour
– salt and pepper
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 3 large carrots, chopped
– 3 ribs of celery, chopped
– 1 cup of red wine
– 2 cans of beef broth
– 3 sprigs of thyme, fresh or dry
– 1 sprig of rosemary
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 cup of yellow cornmeal
– 4 1/2 cups of water
– 4 ounces of cream cheese (or goat cheese)
– 1 tablespoon of butter
– chopped parsley for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch/French oven over medium-high heat. Rinse venison neck under cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides, dredge in flour then brown in the oil on both sides, 3-5 minutes each side. Set browned neck aside.
2. Add more oil if necessary to the pot. Lower heat to medium then add chopped onion, carrot and celery, along with a pinch of salt. Sweat vegetables and sauté until onions turn translucent, 5-7 minutes.
Add the venison back to the pot, then pour in 2 cans of beef broth. Add thyme, bay leaf and rosemary. Cover the Dutch/French oven and braise in a 350 degree F oven for 2 1/2 hours, or until neck turns fork tender.
4. Flip the neck halfway through and check to make sure that the liquid has not evaporated too quickly. If so, add more broth to keep meat from drying out and burning.
After 2 1/2 hours, the meat should be fork tender. Shred venison neck into smaller pieces. Taste for seasoning. Discard thyme, bay leaf and rosemary sprigs before serving.
5. To make polenta, bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in cornmeal and a generous pinch of salt, no lumps, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Once polenta is cooked, mix in cheese, butter and more salt, if necessary.
6. Spoon polenta into a bowl then ladle braised venison and vegetables on top. Garnish with parsley.
For more great recipes visit Food for Hunters and poke around for everything from deer to turtle!
Drive yourself toward self-sufficiency and learn how to hunt, process, and cook a wide variety of wild
game with Hunting for Food by Jenny Nguyen and Rick Wheatley. Begin with detailed instructions on the best practices for hunting different types of game, including coverage of how to find or attract the game you’re looking to hunt, best times for hunting, and the gear you’ll need to be successful.