I grew up in a family where hunting wasn’t a normal part of life. My dad never just took off into the woods to try to rustle up some dinner. So imagine my surprise when I married a hunter, and there’s occasionally a large chunk of very fresh deer meat that turns up in our freezer. Oh my!
One such deer found its way to our fridge on Saturday. I named him Jimmy. So this week, we’re spending a good chunk of time processing Jimmy.
You might think it’s weird or heartless or weird (double weird) to name your meat. But I saw Jimmy all together in one piece, and it somehow feels kinder to give him a name. I happen to think that it’s okay to eat meat, and even though I don’t have any desire to hunt, I am glad my husband can bring us venison sometimes. So I try not to be too squeemish about “processing.” I know that all of my other favorite meat-based meals started out in more or less the same way. I just didn’t see them at the beginning.
Something I’ve learned over the past few hunting seasons is that you often need to add fat to venison to make a decent ground meat. You do need some fat, after all, for cooking. Venison tends to be lean, and Jimmy was in good shape. He needs some fat. It turns out that it’s tougher than we thought it would be to buy fat at the grocery store. We’ve now asked at three major grocery stores, “Excuse me, can I buy some fat?” I don’t think I’ve ever asked for something stranger at the grocery store. I really hope the fourth person I ask doesn’t give me a weird look and a strong, “No.”
Once we’ve gotten past all of those things, it will be recipe time. That’s the part I like. This is our favorite recipe from the last time there was a deer in our fridge/freezer:
It’s called Beef and Butternut Chili, but it tastes just right with venison. There’s a ton of flavor in that recipe, and the cooking time allows the venison to get tender. It will definitely be used again this year.
Instead of thinking about venison recipes, I should really be prepping meals for the next few weekends and freezing them. Or better yet, calling some insurance folks to ask questions I’ve been putting off for a week now. Who wants to call insurance people when you could be daydreaming about warm stews though? Not this girl.