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There’s simply one thing about camp meat that makes it particular. The laborious work it took to earn it and the environment definitely do not damage. Nearly as good as cooking venison is, there are methods to make it higher. Recent meat presents some challenges, particularly contemplating it is usually carved from the bone effectively earlier than it goes by rigor mortis, which causes even tender cuts to turn into more durable.

Cooking venison
Cooking venison in camp is one of the best ways to have a good time success.

Listed below are some ideas for getting essentially the most out of your animals, whether or not it is a freshly killed elk grilled excessive within the Rockies, or a Northwoods whitetail hanging outdoors a standard household deer camp.

Cooking Venison That is Tender Or Powerful?

Cooking venison
The tenderloin is the choicest reduce of meat on an animal, and ought to be eaten instantly earlier than it dries out.

Each hunter is aware of which muscle is the softest on any ungulate — the tenderloin. Heck, it even has the phrase tender in its identify. However did you ever surprise why the tenderloin is so tender? As a result of it would not do any work. I am positive there’s a physiological cause it exists, however so far as I can inform, the tenderloin’s one job is to hold there contained in the stomach and develop scrumptious. It is such a fragile reduce that it requires no getting old and ought to be eaten immediately, earlier than it dries out.

So what’s a hunter to do when it is day three in camp and each tenderloins have lengthy since been digested? Which reduce comes subsequent on the tenderness scale? Taking a lesson from the tenderloin, muscle mass that do the least quantity of labor are additionally the best to chew. People who transfer usually — assume decrease legs, shoulder and neck — are the hardest.


A superb basic rule is the farther a muscle is from an animal’s head or hooves, the softer it’ll be. Go for the sirloin finish of the backstrap, flank meat, and that hidden gem — the attention of spherical — which is the lengthy, slim muscle hooked up to the underside spherical. It is simply identifiable because it seems to be loads like a tenderloin, and though not as tender, continues to be the softest possibility of the muscle mass that make up an animal’s hindquarter.

Not So Offal

Again within the day, the primary animal components that bought eaten had been often the organs, in any other case often known as offal. Many a deer camp has served a giant plate of liver and onions quickly after the primary buck was tagged, and fried slices of coronary heart is a practice held near hunters’, effectively, hearts. However someplace alongside the best way, innards fell outdoors the mainstream concept of what was edible, and you would be laborious pressed to discover a plastic bag reserved for the center and liver amongst a backcountry hunter’s butchering equipment.

Fortunately, attitudes towards offal are altering, and the pendulum is swinging again in the direction of saving these tasty bits. However, like something, it’s a must to cook dinner them proper. Each the center and liver fall on the robust facet of the equation, and require specialised preparation and cooking methods, notably in case you plan on consuming them in camp.

The guts is an lively muscle, so trimming is the primary order of enterprise. There are a number of tubes that come out of the highest of the center. These are the valves, veins and arteries, and they need to all be trimmed away utilizing a pointy knife. Identical goes for the laborious, white fats usually discovered ringing the highest of the center. A few of it will soften away throughout the cooking course of, so do not feel like you might want to take away all of it.

Subsequent, make a protracted, clear reduce lengthwise in a line between the 2 largest holes, opening the center up like a e-book. This may reveal extra web-like connective tissues that may now be reduce away and eliminated. From there, slice the center in steaks or dice them for Peruvian anticuchos.

Cooler Ageing

Cooking venison
You’ll be able to age meat in camp by inserting it on a rack in a cooler for a number of days.

One of many tried-and-true methods to tenderize meat and make it extra flavorful is getting old, which makes use of naturally occurring enzymes that develop over time to interrupt down connective collagens and fibers inside the meat.

For cooking venison, the longer a reduce of meat ages, the extra tender it turns into. In a camp state of affairs, it helps in case you tag out the primary day and may let the carcass grasp for per week, however even just a few days of getting old can enhance the style and texture of a troublesome reduce of meat.

The problem of getting old venison in a camp setting is offering a secure, constant atmosphere that may enable enzymes to develop with out inviting micro organism, which thrives between the temperatures of 40 and 140 levels. Which means maintaining the meat above freezing however under 40 levels, or ideally within the 34 to 37-degree temperature vary. One of the best ways to do that in camp is with an extreme-duty cooler, similar to these made by YETI.

To arrange a cooler for getting old, you will want some ice, ideally of the block selection, which melts a lot slower. Higher but are ice substitutes. I like these made by Arctic Ice. Like heat temperatures, water — the place micro organism develop — is the enemy to getting old.

To maintain the venison dry, store round to discover a rack that matches inside your cooler. These used to chill baked items on the counter work nice — something to maintain the venison up off the ice.

Place the rack on high of the ice, after which pat the meat dry with a paper towel and place it on the rack. Do not stack or overlap meat, as you need all of the surfaces uncovered to the cool, dry air. At the least as soon as a day, ideally twice, open the cooler to let moist air escape, flip the meat, and dry the floor of it by blotting it with a paper towel. Repeat this course of till your final evening in camp, after which take pleasure in a scrumptious, and tender, steak dinner.

Area-Expedient Tenderizing

Even earlier than a hunter dropped the primary mastodon with a well-placed spear level, man has been coping with robust cuts of meat. It did not take them lengthy to determine that beating steaks between two rocks was an effective way to melt the lengthy muscle strands that trigger meat to be so robust. Whereas there’s nothing mistaken with utilizing this identical technique, it is a good suggestion to be a bit extra civilized earlier than cooking venison.

When you do wish to channel your internal caveman, you need to at the least wrap the venison in between some plastic wrap, or barring that, a clear fabric.

Nonetheless, there’s a higher means, and it is a shut as your hip, assuming you carry a stout, fixed-blade knife. In case you have a chuck field with you, a superb camp knife works even higher. Both means, you need one with a heavy backbone, which can be utilized as a wonderful stand-in for the blades of a mechanical tenderizer like these used to create dice steaks.

Merely flip the knife over in your hand, after which firmly pound the steak or chop with the knife’s backbone. Flip the steak 90 levels and repeat, making a cross-hatch sample, after which flip the meat and repeat the method on the opposite facet.

Now cooking venison will really feel like cooking beef.

Minced Meat

Cooking venison
When cooking venison in camp or at dwelling, it is best to not cook dinner it previous medium, in any other case it’ll end up robust.

After I’m in elk camp, there are two issues I begin craving — pizza and hamburgers. Whereas the previous should wait till I get again to civilization, it’s attainable to make a fairly good burger within the backcountry. And, like tenderizing, it requires a knife.

Mincing meat with out a grinder is definitely pretty straightforward, particularly in small batches. Begin by slicing a skinny reduce of meat into lengthy, skinny strips. After getting a stack of those, flip them perpendicular and reduce the slices into the smallest cubes you may handle.

A pointy knife and chilly meat make issues simpler. Whenever you’re performed, you need to have a nice-sized pile of minced meat that appears like tartare.

Now, in case you’re an adventurous eater, you would eat it identical to this, as elk tartare is great. However to get a burger, you are going to want so as to add a bit fats. Bacon grease is greatest you probably have any readily available. (There may be shelf-stable, precooked bacon out there that’s nice for elk camp.) Or, barring that, pour in a bit little bit of cooking oil. As a final resort, water even works for cooking venison burger.

Cooking Venison Proper

Cooking venison
Right here I’ve combined in some eggs and veggies with some venison to create a easy but scrumptious hash for breakfast.

When it comes all the way down to it, cooking the reduce appropriately is without doubt one of the most vital components in making it palatable. Whether or not it is a tenderloin or shoulder steak, as soon as it will get grilled previous medium, it’ll get more durable the extra effectively performed it is cooked. So match the strategy to the meat, and preserve cuts skinny in case you’re planning on grilling them over the fireplace or in a skillet. Thicker, more durable cuts require extra time in a moist cooking atmosphere that is troublesome to duplicate in a camp with out, on the very least, a Dutch oven.

Probably the greatest camp meals I’ve ever eaten was additionally the best — a protracted, skinny strip of caribou threaded onto a inexperienced willow and shortly roasted over a scorching, smoky fireplace. After all, that meal was flavored by an unimaginable view of Alaska’s Brooks Vary, and it fed a starvation developed by packing quarters over two miles of muskeg, however it nonetheless sits up there with meals I have been fed within the best of eating places. Handled with care, contemporary camp meat can rank proper up there with prime beef. You simply must deal with it proper.

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