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Less Grinding, More Gourmet

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You Can Create Way More Delicious Meals With Those Tougher, Sinewy Cuts Than You Might Think

It’s so exciting to get into the kitchen after a hunt. Last year, this author wrote an article on the topic of using more of the animals we kill for food than just meat for steaks and burgers. The more you can source and turn into a great meal, the more time you can spend with your peeps. The last thing we want is to shortchange ourselves by not taking an opportunity to utilize all that’s available.

During a hunt, the effective sourcing of meat necessitates paying attention to details. First, be mindful of your situation in the field. If it’s hot and dry or you have many miles to cover before you can get to refrigeration, thinner tissues like flanks, brisket, and ribs will dry out more, and it may be more difficult to save them from the grinder. If it’s cooler and you’re closer to a rig or processing, then you have much more flexibility. It sounds easy enough, but we as hunters know nothing goes as planned, so keep this in mind.

Second, connective tissue is your friend when treated right — don’t throw it away. Braising, roasting, or using sous vide techniques are great ways to make this nutritious food amazing. No need to keep buying powdered collagen — cook your tendons! Cuts like the neck, shoulder, and shanks have longer cook times, allowing the connective tissue to break down. This contributes flavor and moisture to the meat. These cuts will also pull or shred incredibly well for tacos or barbecue-style sandwiches.

Tunisian braised shanks from Hank Shaw’s buck buck moose.

Tunisian braised shanks from Hank Shaw’s buck buck moose.

In this article, we focus mostly on ungulated (hoofed) species. Have you read or fallen victim to being the complainer on Facebook groups or online forums, posing the classic question, “What to do with yet another package of ground venison?” There are answers. The quick answer is simple — grind less — but what does that really mean? Aside from easy cuts like backstraps and tenderloins, and roasts from the hind portions, the meat tends to be slightly more challenging and or time consuming to deal with. Specifically, we’re talking about portions like the ribs, flanks, neck, brisket, front shoulders, and shanks.

Whole front and rear shanks ready to be frozen or cooked.

Whole front and rear shanks ready to be frozen or cooked.

We’ll walk through each of these individually and give you some ideas of what you can do with them besides feeding them to the grinder. You’ll enjoy it, and we’re guessing your friends will be far more impressed when you tell them you’re serving venison osso bucco instead of venison burgers (no disrespect to the awesomeness of a venison burger, of course). Remember, this series is a guide for ideas to get more use out of your game, not a collection of recipes. There are numerous great resources out there for game recipes as the wild food movement continues to spread.

The Neck
If CWD (chronic wasting disease) is a concern, bone in isn’t an option and the neck can be a bit of a pain to cut around the spine and jugular. In California, we aren’t allowed to bring any part of the spine back from out of state unless it has been cleaned and dried, so we’d have to bone it out. It’s well worth the effort because what you’re left with is a wide, fairly flat (if you were able to keep it in tact) cut that can be rolled, stuffed, and trussed (tied back together) and roasted or braised.

It’s loaded with connective tissue and will shred incredibly well too, so keep it in mind for “carnitas” or pulled sandwiches slathered with barbecue sauce. If you can keep it bone-in, it makes an incredible roast with a unique presentation element of the vertebrae in the middle. Again, be mindful of CWD here, and if you’re in a CWD state, we wouldn’t recommend this.

Search terms: neck roast, venison barbacoa, venison neck roast

Corn some of your venison to make corned venison and hash.

Corn some of your venison to make corned venison and hash.

To read the rest of this article, click here to purchase a copy of CARNIVORE 2

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