Arrowing a deer and getting it home involves lots of work, but the reward is a freezer full of delicious venison. A deer’s roasts, backstraps and tenderloins make for memorable meals with family and friends.
Eventually, though, all that meat gets eaten and you’re left wishing for one more bite. You can delay this meat crisis by stepping outside your comfort zone and turning other edible deer parts into great meals.
Even though they’re tasty, ribs, bones, organs and shanks often get overlooked. With a little knowledge and creativity, you can turn all those items into great meals.
Shanks and Ribs
If you cook shanks and ribs like you do backstraps, you’ll likely find them chewy or unsatisfying. Braising, slow-cooking and pressure-cooking are better ways to prepare these cuts. We’ll discuss some of those alternatives below. For even more information on these techniques, click here.
Game stock adds flavor to recipes like venison shank osso bucco, and it’s easy to make from leftover bones.
Game Stock Recipe
6 pounds bones (preferably leg bones)
1 large onion (quartered)
2 celery ribs
1 bunch parsley
2 teaspoons thyme
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Put the bones in a shallow roasting pan with the onion. Roast in oven at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven when bones are browned, and transfer onion and bones to a large pot. Add a cup of water to the roasting pan to deglaze, and then pour the water into the pot. Add 11 more cups of water to the pot, along with the rest of ingredients. Simmer for about five hours and then strain. Freeze stock in portioned containers for future use.
If you’re new to eating organs, try the heart first. This muscle resembles other common cuts of meat, and tastes similar to venison steak. In this video, MeatEater host Steven Rinella shows how to prepare a heart over a fire.
Fine dining establishments use caul fat in gourmet meals. You can use the same gourmet ingredient for cooking wild game.
Caul fat surrounds the organs and should be harvested during field dressing. Remove it in large sections, and take care to keep it clean. The most common way to use caul fat is to wrap it around meat, and let it baste the meat as it cooks slowly. For an easy meatball recipe with caul fat, click here.
Taco lovers have probably seen “lengua” or beef tongue at their favorite taco restaurant. Elk and deer tongues taste much like beef tongue, and can be prepared the same way.
Boil the tongue with onions, garlic, herbs and spices, and then peel off the outer membrane. Give it a rough chop, and it’s ready to be made into tacos. Here’s a great video that shows this process.
This nutrient-rich organ can be prepared and enjoyed many ways, including as venison pate, liverwurst and the classic liver and onions. Check out this video on how to pan-fry liver.
When trying anything new, you must push aside preconceived notions. That’s especially true with deer testicles. When cooked in seasoned butter, they make for a tasty snack. Rinella shows you how it’s done in this video.
If you’re lucky enough to harvest a deer this fall, try these recipes. After all, making the most of your harvest means more meals. In fact, it’s the ultimate sign of respect.