Back in September I was chatting with a buddy about hunting and cooking, specifically about deer and all the possibilities with them.
He lives in Virginia. I grew up in Alabama. Both states have strong populations of deer and longstanding traditions of hunting. I can’t remember how young I was when I first tried deer meat but I remember that I liked it. He pretty much echoed the same.
“So let me ask you this,” I said. “When you guys killed a deer did you take out the hindquarters, backstraps, tenderloins and maybe front shoulders if they weren’t broken up? Or did you go the full deal with the neck, shanks and everything possible?”
He used a word I agreed with — spoiled — and said they took the choice cuts, which is what we did. We, like my buddy and his folks, were spoiled because we had so many deer and so many opportunities. We weren’t shooting everything we saw; far from it. But we, like many others, took the best cuts.
Big, big mistake. Big mistake. Why? Aside from wasting good meat, anyone who doesn’t get what they can is missing out on flavorful cuts. Venison shanks are fantastic when slow cooked in an osso bucco style dish. Shoulders can be seasoned and put in the smoker for a few hours.