Venison - it’s the other beef

“Good tasting meat begins with field care,” explained Robbie Johnson of Arrow Seed in Broken Bow. He expanded by saying a short chase and clean shot are key. By putting less stress on the animal and lowering the amount of adrenalin released, hunters can ensure better tasting meat. Also for wild game, quick action must be taken upon harvest, by deboning and cooling the meat. This step will reduce the amount of bacteria and help decrease the chance of spoilage. Once through with field care, one can stick the meat in a cooler for three to four days, in place of hanging, and process it within a week, otherwise freeze it. Hanging isn’t necessary. While a deer is hanging the hide can freeze, making it difficult to remove. In addition, whatever parts of the meat that dries out will be unusable. Deer meat is basically handled the same way beef is and can be used to make jerky, brats, sausage, and even steaks. Since deer meat is naturally lean, while filling it in casings, the venison is usually combined with pork, to give the meat the right consistency. Summer sausage and deer sticks can be smoked for flavor and are similar to jerky, in the respect that they have a heavy seasoning and a cure. This allows them to keep a little longer but what isn’t going to be consumed relatively quickly should be put in a freezer. Breakfast sausage may be packaged as links or patties. If patties are desired, take a one pound bad of partially frozen ground sausage and slice it into patties. For the brats and breakfast sausage, cook as needed and handle like other meats that haven’t been cured. Arrow Seed offers cure seasonings and casings in various deer processing kits. After purchase, all that is needed is the ground meat for stuffing. The kits come in a variety of sizes and after the initial start up cost, should become cost effective. Robbie estimates consumers can process their jerky at under a dollar a pound, as compared to paying over a dollar per stick at gas stations. “We’re just trying to do something good and help other hunters out,” said Robbie in reference to the free educational class offered each fall. Arrow Seed holds anywhere from one to three classes each year during deer season that are open to the public. When asked what a few of the covered topics were, Robbie listed subjects such as proper field care, basic deboning, proper cooking temperatures, sausage making and the optimal mixing ratios, among others. Just remember that brats or fresh sausage can be used in most recipes were beef is needed and here are some interesting ideas and recipes that call for venison. VENISON SAUSAGE CAVATINI When making the cavatini make sure that the deer brats are fully thawed before cooking. Cook the brats either in a skillet or by boiling. Boiling works great and keeps the skin on the brats softer and more consistent when cooking in a pasta mix. After brats are cooked, cut brats length ways down the middle and then into smaller bite sized pieces and set aside. Any favorite cavatini mix will do but here is what I use when making the dish. Noodles (any size works great so clean out the partially-used open bags in the cabinet)4 - fully cooked brats30 - slices of pepperoni, cut in half Cheese of choice1 - large can spaghetti sauce 1 - small can mushrooms 1- whole green pepper, chopped to size of choice 1 - tablespoon red pepper After the noodles are cooked, place all ingredients besides the cheese into an 8x11 dish and mix together. After the items are combined place the desired amount of cheese on top of cavatini and place in oven at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. Take out and enjoy!CHICKEN FRIED VENISON STEAKS From the Wild Game Cookbook by NebraskaLand Magazine1 1/2 - pound deer steak2 - cups saltine crackers, crushed3 - eggs, beaten1 - cup milkSalt and pepperCooking oil Pound steaks with a mallet until they are about half and inch thick. Combine milk and eggs in a bowl. Coat tenderized steaks with egg mixture and then with crushed crackers. Salt and pepper to taste. Fry in hot oil until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.VENISON SALADWild Game Cookbook by NebraskaLand Magazine4 - cups cooked venison, cut into half-inch cubesFrench dressing1 - cup celery, sliced1 - cup cooked green beans,cut in thirds1/2 - cup stuffed olives, sliced4 - hard-boiled eggs, slicedMayonnaiseSalt and pepperLettuce Coat the cubed venison with French dressing, refrigerate for one hour, stirring occasionally. Drain venison, add celery, green beans, stuffed olives, and eggs with enough mayonnaise to moisten all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange in a lettuce-lined bowel.