Study up on different ways to use venison

Extension has a vast amount of resources available for venison meat lovers.

October is the start of bow hunting season in Michigan, and if your family is like mine, it’s time to start preparing your freezer for the harvest. If freezer space is tight, there are other ways to preserve your venison meat, such as pressure canning, or by making summer sausage and jerky. Some families like to donate all or a portion of their harvest through the program Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger.

If you are going to cook your venison steaks or burger, be sure to read some tips on how to make your meat taste less gamey. If you are processing your own deer, keep in mind these recommendations from the Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-657:

  1. Hind and fore shanks can be de-boned and cut into cubes for stew or ground into hamburger.
  2. Round cuts are usually cut into steaks and can be prepared using Swiss steak recipes.
  3. Small tender legs can be kept whole and roasted like a leg of lamb.
  4. The meat can also be cubed for stew or ground into hamburger.
  5. The loin and rib chops are the source of sirloin and porterhouse steaks. These cuts are generally best for frying, broiling, roasting, or grilling.
  6. The shoulder is a source of pot roasts where you use moist heat to help tenderize the meat. The rump is used for pot roasts as well. It can also be cubed for stew or ground for hamburger.
  7. The neck is best for pot roasts, stew meat, or ground meat.
  8. The flank and breast contain a lot of meat, which is best used in stews, soups, ground meat or chili.

For those new to wild game meats, Gourmet Gone Wild is a great resource for programs and recipes. Gourmet Gone Wild (GGW) is a project supported by Michigan hunting and fishing conservation organizations that works to introduce hunting and fishing to younger generations. GGW promotes hunting and fishing as sustainable food system activities. Below is one of the GGW recipes from their web site:                                                                                            

Venison Pasty

Yield: 10 medium pasties

Dough Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup shortening

1 cup water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup ice

Filling Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds venison roast, trimmed (reserve trimmings)

1 rutabaga, peeled and diced into ¼ inch cubes

1 parsnip, peeled and diced into ¼ inch cubes (reserve peelings)

1 turnip, peeled and diced into ¼ inch cubes (reserve peelings)

¼ cup celery root, peeled and diced into ¼ inch cubes (reserve peelings)

2 cups sweet potato or winter squash, peeled and diced into ¼ inch cubes(reserve peelings)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced, divided

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

salt & pepper blend

1 cup lard, goose fat, or duck fat, divided

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef or venison stock

½ cup Madeira wine, divided


Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Crumble in the shortening and mix by hand until loosely combined being careful not to over mix. In a separate bowl, mix ice and water together and stir to thoroughly chill water. Measure out ¾ cup chilled water and mix into dough by hand being careful not to over mix. Set dough aside in a bowl and place in refrigerator for 2-24 hrs.

Flour cooking surface and roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut 5-inch diameter circles out of dough. Hold dough circles in cooler until ready to fill.

Dice venison into ¼ inch cubes and sprinkle with salt & blended pepper.

In a large bowl, combine half of the yellow onion, venison trimmings, vegetable peelings, and 2 cloves of garlic. Warm ½ cup lard in a shallow stock pan. Add the trimming and peeling mixture and sauté for 5 minutes or until onions become translucent. Turn off heat and add ¼ cup Madeira wine to trimmings and vegetable mixture. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the stock and reduce the liquids over heat by half. Strain off and discard the solids and reserve liquids for later.

In a large sauté pan, heat ¼ cup of lard until sizzling hot. Add the diced venison roast and sauté quickly—browning but only partially cooking all meat. Remove venison from pan and cool to room temperature. Add another ¼ cup lard and sauté all of the diced vegetables plus the second half of yellow onion and 2 cloves of garlic in the same pan, season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables to al dente. Remove vegetables from pan and cool to room temperature. Turn off heat and add ¼ cup Madeira wine to pan and reduce over heat. Melt in butter and stir in flour sautéing for 1 minute—be sure to scrape all browned bits from bottom of sauté pan. Add the liquids from earlier. Simmer and reduce until the liquids are nearly gravy consistency. Remove gravy to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

Mix all the cooled venison, vegetables, and gravy together. Remove pasty dough circles from refrigerator and fill half the circle with pasty mixture. Fold over the dough and pie roll the edges together. If necessary, crimp the edges together with a fork. Filled pasties can be baked immediately or frozen until needed.

To bake fresh pasties, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. To bake frozen pasties, preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. For a crisper crust, brush pasties with an egg white wash.

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