Thanks to the hunting skills of my goodlooking husband, Kurt, our freezer stays full of venison year round: ground and stew meat, cubed steak and sausage. I began cooking with venison when I suddenly found myself with 40 pounds of Middle Georgia doe, after Kurt got his first deer in 2016. Good thing I did, because with every hunting season, comes a few more. My family’s farm is in Twiggs County, smack dab in the middle of the state. We grow pine trees, and the wildlife on our land is filled with white tail deer, black bear, coyotes and tons of wild boar.
At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the taste of venison. I’d heard it tasted “gamey,” and didn’t know what to expect. After working with the different cuts of meat in more than a few dishes, I’m here to tell you: When deer meat is handled properly, there is nothing gamey about the taste.
Good tasting venison has to do with several factors. One of the most primary being that you must let it bleed out for a couple of days before taking it to the processor. Good venison needs to age. After the deer has been cleaned and skinned, place a layer of ice on the bottom of your cooler, then place the meat on top of that and top it with more ice. Place the cooler outdoors in a shady spot, pointed downhill with the drain plug open. This purges the blood from the meat and keeps it cool. Always be sure your meat is kept ice cold during this time. Food safety first.
Cooking with ground venison is much like cooking with ground beef. It can be substituted for most any ground beef recipe. I make tons of Italian dishes with it, like spaghetti, lasagna and venison rigatoni and love cooking up big batches of venison chili.
The same goes for the other cuts of meat. If you know how to make country fried steak, you can just as easily make country fried venison. If you know how to make beef stew, you can just as easily make venison stew. You get the idea. When it comes to grilling the backstrap portion of a deer, be careful not overcook it. Venison backstrap is most flavorful and juicy when cooked medium rare.
The other day on Instagram
(@SKGFoodBlog), I posted a mouthwatering photo of my garlic and herb venison penne pasta with homemade tomato sauce. I had prepared the dish in my cast iron skillet. The first comment I received was from a Statesboro local who said, “That looks amazing and I am always looking for recipes that use venison!” With as many hunters as there are in Southeast Georgia, I figured there were a few more of you who might like some good deer dinner ideas.
When the weather turns cooler, I love cooking soups and stews. This venison stew recipe is hearty and filling, and warms you up after a long day of hunting in the stand. It’s also great for a good weeknight family dinner. Flavored with fresh herbs from my garden and rich beef broth, I like to serve it with crusty, buttered French bread and a side salad.
Some Kinda Good Venison Stew
2 pounds of venison stew meat, cubed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
4 slices of hardwood smoked, thick-cut bacon, clipped into pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced
Olive oil, if needed
Salt and pepper
4 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3 sprigs of fesh thyme
3 sprigs of parsley, plus more for garnish
In a 1-gallon ZipLock bag or paper sack, place the flour, garlic salt, cayenne pepper and Herbs de Provence. Close the bag and shake well to combine the seasonings and flour. Add the meat to the bag. Close it and shake well, turning the bag until all the pieces are well covered. Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook bacon pieces until crispy, and set aside.
With a set of tongs, shake off the excess flour from each piece of venison, adding it to the rendered bacon fat. Brown the meat on all sides, searing until a golden brown crust develops. Turn the meat, every minute or so, until all sides have been browned. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
Add a tablespoon of beef broth to the pan to deglaze it. Using a wooden spoon, loosen the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and bell pepper to the pan and saute until tender, about five minutes. At this step, if your pan looks dry, add a few tablespoons of oil.
Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Season well with salt and pepper. Return the venison to the pan, and cover the meat and vegetables with the broth and red wine.
Using kitchen twine, make a bundle with the thyme and parsley, tying a knot around the herbs and attaching the other end to the handle of the pot. Season again with salt and pepper.
Cover the stew with a lid, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Taste the stew for seasoning and adjust as needed. Remove the bay leaves, and discard the herb bundle. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve over rice.
Special equipment needed:
Large dutch oven, such as Le Cruset
1 gallon ZipLock bag
For more venison recipes and Southern, coastal cuisine ideas, visit SomeKindaGood.com.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season. Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.