Venison is virtually a way of life found in the country sides and back woods of nearly anyplace that provides a decent patch of overgrown foliage. Deer are found almost everywhere on this continent and it seems only fitting that we would hunt, kill, and consume this captivating quadruped. The lure of bagging a “Trophy Buck” draws hundreds of hunters to the woods each year, and although it is becoming a primitive notion, there is still a large number of people who hunt as a form of lifestyle. As a cook with little to no hunting experience at the birth of a Wisconsin winter, I found myself odd man out as everyone around me left for a tree stand in the woods on opening day. To my surprise and fortune, people returned all to eager to share their killings. I began playing with and prodding into the gamy protein, creating hearty and playful meals (suitable for winter) coming away with a better understanding of how to cook the animal in a simple, and easily approachable manner. Outside of the hunting community, people have mixed feelings on the subject of eating game. People tend to love venison or hate it, while others decide against eating the hunted game in practice of establishing their own moral platform (this is often Bambi related, no doubt).
I was given a couple pounds of ground venison. My first observations were simple and obvious. Very lean, Rich in color and fragrance, smelling of the woods from which it came. Sinew laced and, yet again, barely any fat. I cook off a piece unseasoned and void of any “outside flavoring”.Very Gamy and dry, crumbling in my mouth as apposed to melting, it was quite an off putting taste that seemed to linger. I lightly season the meat and with very little salt and instantaneously, I begin to see potential for greatness.
My senses led me to meat balls.
Side Note: I added a milk soaked bread crumb to the ground venison to insure moisture in the finished product.
About a week after my foray into the ground venison, I was gifted an chunk of cleaned Venison, undoubtedly some type of a loin. Having little experience with the foreign product itself, I decide to use a familiar technique and braise.
Venison Pot Pie
Nothing is better than a thick and hearty warm stew, topped with a beautiful crust of flaky dough, to start off your snow season. I braised the Venison for three hours (until it was falling apart) then let it cool in the Braising liquid (this is a mandatory step in any type of braising situation to optimize quality and flavor).
Side Note: Bake off the Crust separately then top the stew with the pastry “lid”; in doing so you will uphold the integrity and crunch of you pastry topper.
With minimal effort, the Daunting Venison becomes a Warm Comfort Food.