With a whitetail on the ground, the first meals most of us immediately start thinking about are all the dinners to create from the prime cuts: pot roasts basted long and moist in the oven to tender perfection; chops grilled over glowing coals to medium-rare juiciness; steak strips seared with a little garlic in a black cast-iron skillet and served beside mushrooms sautéed in butter; quick-fried flank fajita strips wrapped up in a tortilla with grilled peppers and onions and topped with guacamole; a savory meat- loaf served with mashed potatoes.
And that’s all just during the first week after the deer is butchered! Lunch gets into the action, too, usually with leftovers (I always make enough for a noontime meal or two at work the next couple of days). Burgers on the grill are a perfect weekend midday meal or for a cookout. Same with any brats, Polish sausage or kielbasa you might make.
Of course, snacks and finger foods get plenty of attention as well, and rightfully so. There’s nothing better than summer sausage, snack sticks (mild, hot, in-between, with cheese, maple flavor, hickory or mesquite or apple smoked — you name it), pepper sticks and jerky to keep the entire family happy and satisfied on hunting, fishing and camping trips, during other outdoor activities, at ball games, and for after school or late at night.
What’s absent? Breakfast, of course. Breakfast is a great way to whittle away at the meat (especially the ground venison) in your freezer, before the next hunting seasons begin.
Bottom line: Breakfast is a great opportunity to eat more of your favorite meat. Here are some ways to process it, then cook it and enjoy it in the morning.
Here’s the basic recipe for a 3-pound batch of scrapple — enough to have a breakfast or two, and freeze some for use later. It’s one of my favorites.
Breakfast Scrapple Recipe
11⁄2 pounds venison trim pieces
11⁄2 pounds pork scraps (or a fatty roast, cubed)
3 quarts water
3 Tbsp. salt
3 Tbsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. ground sage
3 cups corn meal
Scrapple is not hard to make. It is more of an art than science, but you really can’t spoil it — just keep a little extra water and corn meal on hand to thicken or thin the mixture as needed during the cooking process.
Put the meat in the water, bring to a boil and simmer for a half-hour. Remove the meat and run through a meat grinder set to fine or medium. Set meat aside.
Add the corn meal and spices to the broth you have reserved, heat up and bring to a gentle boil, add the meat back, turn down and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir often during this process to prevent sticking.
Pour mixture into small loaf pans or baking pans to a height of 2 to 3 inches. Put the pans in the refrigerator (or outside if it’s between 30 and 40 F) to cool and harden. Cut off slices and pan-fry as suggested above for breakfast.
Freeze single loafs for later use.
Bacon from venison? You bet! This is the perfect use for meat from the front shoulder or a roast off the rump. Bacon seasoning kits are available. Use venison pieces that are flat (about 2 inches thick), then slice cross-wise into bacon-like strips later.
The basic process involves injecting a roast with meat cure, letting it cure in the refrigerator for several days, then smoking to an internal temperature of 130 F. (Without the pork, this temperature can be lower than the usual 160 F.) Here’s the recipe for turning a chunk of venison into bacon:
Venison Bacon Recipe
2- to 3-pound venison roast
1 pound meat curing agent (available at www.WestonSupply.com)
1⁄2-pound brown sugar
11⁄4 gallons water
Mix dry ingredients and water well into a solution. Inject venison roast with solution. The blood will come out. Seal meat in a big bag and let it marinate in the refrigerator for two to three days. Then remove and rub with spices: rosemary, sage, garlic powder, onion powder or McCormick Garlic & Herb. Smoke to that 130 F internal temperature.
Use some bacon fresh right now! Slice into thick slices and cook like bacon right in a pan. Vacuum seal and freeze the rest in half-pound or one- pound chunks to thaw and use later.
Venison isn’t just for dinner, supper,
Using a slow cooker for roasts is a great way to avoid a lot of time in the kitchen and enjoy your deer meat, too. Prepare your meat by removing all silver skin, have your ingredi- ents ready and then fire up the slow cooker. Weston Supply makes a great lineup of cookers that will help you prepare your best venison meals this season (www.WestonSupply.com).
Here are two recipes from D&DH readers:
Slow Cooker Venison Roast
2-3 lb. deer roast
16 oz. jar Giardiniera (hot or mild, depending on your taste)
Put the roast in a slow cooker on low and dump in the jar of Giardiniera. Cook for 6 to 8 hours. Slice the roast thinly and put on your favorite bun. Spoon on some Giardiniera, if desired.
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 medium size roast
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook for 7 hours, then shred the roast. Add 1 jar of pepperoncini and cook for 3 more hours. Place the shredded roast on split Italian loaves or on Kaiser rolls and eat like a sandwich.