Treating Your Booty with Care

About Venison

This romantic word can cover any of the edible animals taken in the chase, but we are discussing here only antlered types. A famous sportsman called venison a gift of joy to some, a matter of secret interment to others.

Today, when hunters are so aware of the need to treat their booty with care from the moment it is shot, joy can prevail. No matter what the method of handling, certain preparations are basic. Game shot in an unsuspecting moment is more tender than game that is chased and will also deteriorate less quickly. Avoid buying trapped animals for food. Immediate and careful gutting, page 752, immediate removal of all hair near exposed flesh and prompt skinning are essential.

Some authorities recommend only a week of hanging, some as long as 4 weeks in 40 degree temperatures in a cool, airy place, away from sun, screened against insects and protected from predators. Venison is lean and needs barding, page 384, or larding, page 383.

Care must be taken though, to remove all fat from any of these game animals themselves, as it grows rancid rapidly. Do not use it to grease pans or for sautéing or browning. The livers and heart are often eaten and should be marinated under refrigeration or soaked in salt water for 12 hours or longer. As with all game, the lushness of the season and the age of the animal contribute to the decision as to how to cook it.

Moose meat, which is relatively fat, calls for cooking like pork and can also have the same sweet and sweet-sour garnishes and sauces. Elk is more like beef than any other game. Calf elk sours rapidly. Cook it as for veal.

The choice cuts of very young deer or goat and fat old bucks can be roasted or broiled as for beef. Other cuts should be marinated, drained, dried and prepared as for any moist-processed beef, see pages 413-416.

For sauces for game, see page 327. Cabbage, turnips, chestnuts and mushrooms are often suggested as classic game accompaniments, as are brandied fruits.

Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Joy of Cooking, The New American Library Inc. New York, New York, revised 1973

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Michael Disfarmer, [The Hunter and the Hunted], ca. 1940s

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Larry Fink, Deer in Tree, PA, 1978

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