2 lbs. of venison medallions (tender cuts)
Salt and white pepper
1 tsp. fresh-cracked black peppercorns
1 c. fresh whole cranberries
1 c. ruby port wine
¼ c. sugar
½ c. brown sauce
Method: Trim all fat and silver skin from the loin. Cut into medallions and rub with oil and season. In a heavy brazing pan, brown the meat. Remove meat and add peppercorns, cranberries, wine and sugar to the pan. Reduce to low heat; add brown sauce and bring to a boil. Combine the sauce with the meat and serve immediately with spaghetti squash, sugar-snap peas or roasted red potatoes.
Fences vs. Forests
It's no secret that cattle and deer live drastically different lifestyles. Here's a look at how those differences affect what we eat.
by Albert Wutsch
There are many differences between beef and venison, and these differences cause obvious variations in flavor, physical properties and cooking methods. The key to successful cooking is understanding the product that is being prepared, determining the best cooking method suited for that cut and knowing the key steps and elements of that specific cooking method.
When referring to venison, I'm including pronghorn, caribou, moose, elk and all deer species. These wild animals have similar bone structure as lamb, pork and beef. The bone structure dictates the muscle structure, so all these animals have similar muscles located in similar places—just different sizes.
The location of the muscles on the bone structure is what determines the cut and helps determine the cooking method. Other factors that determine the selection of the best suited cooking method include understanding some of the following differences between beef and venison:
• Beef has more fat cover between the hide and the muscle than venison. With beef, this fat covering bastes the roast as it cooks. With venison roasts and steaks, many cooks apply bacon or other fat to the outside for additional flavor, a process known as barding.
• Beef has more marbling within the muscle itself than venison. Venison has no marbling fat, producing a dense muscle that does not create flavor from the rendering of the fat as it cooks. It is common practice to add flavor to lean or tough meat by inserting fat or tenderizing.
• Beef has more fat between the muscles than venison. When working with venison, there is rarely any fat located between the muscles. When found, this fat is removed from the meat with the exception of the ribs. Cooking methods such as brazing and barbecuing generate low heat for long periods of time and effectively render the fat from the meat.
• Beef is generally harvested at a younger age than venison. The age of the animal is probably one of the most important factors that affect taste and tenderness. Veal is harvested between 6 months and 1 year, comparable to a tender yearling or fawn. Beef is most often harvested between 12 months and 2 years of age, comparable to a spike buck. Mature bucks that are 3-5 years old are generally going to be tough and require more care when cooking.
• Beef is raised differently than venison. A farm-raised animal that has been castrated and fattened in a food lot is going to have different muscle tone than an animal that is constantly searching for native browse. Also, wild venison will taste much different than farm-raised venison.
• Beef is aged differently than venison. Venison and beef both have the same enzymes that are responsible for aging, which develops flavor and tenderness. Beef is aged commercially in a controlled environment while venison is often butchered soon after harvest, due to the lack of perfect aging conditions.
• Beef does not taste as gamey as venison. Removing the tacky membrane from the outer surface of each muscle will help eliminate venison's gamey flavor, and it's best to remove it when the meat comes out of the freezer and is still firm with frost.
One of the most recent trends in the food industry is toward the use of natural, fresh, local, organic and wholesome foods. Game meats are on top of that list and full of flavor if prepared correctly. Cooking is much like hunting. You utilize your senses to the maximum; developing your senses is a skill. The art of preparing the meat takes as much honing as does the art of harvesting