Nov/Dec 2007Easy Deer-licious Recipesby Dennis Chastain

Mock Steak Dianne

Deer biologist Charles Ruth says his family uses venison in almost every way you would use beef, but their favorite recipe, by a large margin, is mock steak Dianne.

Slice 1-inch-thick medallions from a deer loin, a.k.a. backstrap. Sprinkle liberally with lemon pepper seasoning on all sides. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Sear deer steaks on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove steaks from pan. Deglaze pan with 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, the juice of one lemon, and two rounded tablespoons of Dijon mustard. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve with pasta salad and a green vegetable such as sugar snap peas.

Delicious Deer Stew

The author's wife, Jane Chastain, came up with this recipe for deer stew more than twenty-five years ago, and it is a perennial favorite in the Chastain household. For bear stew, simply substitute bear stew meat.

In the morning, take 1 package of deer stew meat from freezer. Remove wrapping paper and place frozen meat in a crock pot. Sprinkle meat with Lawry's seasoning salt. Add ½ cup of water and set crock pot on low. Meat will be perfectly done by 5:00 that evening.

Remove meat with slotted spoon. Place on cutting board and allow to cool. Trim any sinew or fat, and cut large chunks into bite-sized pieces. Cut 4-5 medium-sized unpeeled red-skinned potatoes into 1-inch cubes.

Quarter 2 medium yellow onions. Cut 3 to 4 carrots into 1-inch-long sections. Place vegetables into large saucepan with 1 quart water. Add 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Allow vegetables to cook for 20 to 30 minutes on medium high heat until tender.

Dissolve ¼ cup cornstarch in 1 cup of cold water. Add cooked venison and dissolved cornstarch to vegetables, cook another 10 to 15 minutes and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with cornbread and turnip greens, or your favorite garden vegetable. This hearty stew is wonderful on a cold winter evening.

Tender Loin Versus Tenderloin

An old Chinese proverb advises, "The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name." Learning the lingo associated with deer processing is the first step toward mastering the task at hand.

If you don't learn anything else about deer anatomy, learn the distinction between the loin and the tenderloin. The loin, also widely known as the "backstrap" or "tenderloin" is the wonderfully tender and flavorful longitudinal muscle located along both sides of the outside of the spinal column. "If the whole deer was like the backstrap," says Charles Ruth, "we wouldn't have many deer in South Carolina." Cut the loin into small steaks, butterfly them or not, soak in your favorite marinade or leave them plain, or just put the whole thing on the grill. Almost regardless of how you cook it, the loin is most deer hunters' choice cut.

The real tenderloins, however, are even more tender and delicious than the loins but are often overlooked when hunters process their own deer. There are two tenderloins on every deer. They are smaller than the loin and are located on the inside of the rib cage just under the spinal column. The tenderloins are easily cut from the carcass by filleting them to separate the muscle tissue from the backbone before cutting them free on both ends. Slice them into medallions and sauté in butter and olive oil, or roast them whole wrapped in bacon on the grill. They are the crème de la crème of venison cuts.

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