Here’s the thing about venison—if prepared and cooked well, it’s heavenly. If prepared poorly, it’s disgusting. There is no middle ground. I’m willing to bet if you generally like red meat, but hate venison, it’s because you’ve been the victim of sloppy prep work. Cooking with venison can be tricky, which is why I compiled these venison cooking tips for you. The first season I spent cooking venison, I ruined a lot of it, mostly by over cooking it. Not being a fan of shoe leather, I read and read and practiced and practiced until I figured out how to keep the meat moist and tender, regardless of the recipe.
As the cook, a some of the responsibility for tasty meat is out of your control. The Hunter must properly harvest the venison—that means proper field dressing and processing. That’s why we created a whole section of this site dedicated to that. If your Hunter brings home gamey meat, gently encourage him to read it and watch the videos (I recently had a professional butcher compliment the quality of Rick’s home venison butchering technique). If you’re buying your meat from a butcher or at the store, you rest assured that it’s been harvested well and the meat will be divine.
Venison Cooking Tips
The pages in this venison cooking tips section contain information about the health benefits of eating venison, the best ways to handle and prepare the deer meat, and venison cooking techniques so that your meals come out delicious every time.
What is Venison?
Why is this a venison cooking tip? Because knowing what you are eating is step one in cooking it well. So, technically, the term venison describes the meat of any mammal killed by hunting. Throughout history, it applied to any animal from the families Cervidae (deer), Leporidae (hares), and Suidae (wild pigs), and certain species of the genus Capra (goats and antelopes). Today, however, is used almost exclusively to describe the meat from different species of deer.
The species of deer you’re likely to eat will depend on where you live and/or where the hunter in your life hunts. Whether White Tail or Mule, venison meat is typically richer and leaner than beef, the texture supple and tender. Depending on its diet, the flavor of the meat will vary slightly. Typically, it has a full, deep woody/berry taste. Venison is kosher (as deer ruminate and possess completely split hooves), assuming they’ve been caught and slaughtered according to custom.
The traditional hunting season is October through December, beginning with the rut (when the bucks vie for the affection of does, who seem to love a good fight) and ending when mating season is over. In areas like Northern Virginia, where the herds are seriously over populated, the regular season runs from September to March, with many bow hunters able to hunt year round on damage-control permits.
While it is possible to find venison in stores in North America, it’s somewhat difficult. Typically, you’ll need to go to a specialty butcher or high-end market. The venison you get in stores is very likely from New Zealand. The best bet for getting North American venison is to find a hunter who is willing to share! Visit our links page to find where to buy venison on-line.