This week, one of my coworkers proudly shared with me one of those Slim Jim type meat sticks, but his was made from venison. Apparently the hunt was successful. However, I didn’t stay for the story of the kill. I just took my snack and ran. It’s not that I’m squeamish about hunting, especially as I grew up with a Dad and a brother who was/is an avid sportsman. It is just that I don’t understand how anyone can find it enjoyable—being out in the bitter pre-dawn cold of morning, walking through woods over dead trees or the hazards of upturned corn stalks. I feel tired and numb just thinking about it. Plus, I really don’t look good in orange.
The gift of venison and this past deer hunting season really made me think about my dad. He is no longer with us, but still his presence is a big part of my life. The date of our family Thanksgivings would always hinge on whether or not he got a deer by Thursday. If not, oh well, Thanksgiving dinner will be Friday. Or Saturday. It didn’t really matter to us. We still got the long weekend and were able to spend it with family.
I always look forward to the deer story my youngest sister tells us every year about this time. Every year. About the time when my brother picked her up when she was 4 years old (he was about 11) and stuck her head inside the open chest cavity of the gutted deer that was hanging in our garage, waiting to go to the meat processor. That was 30 years ago and she’s still not over it. My brother, strangely, has no memory of this event. Ah, big brothers…
Dad would have his deer prepared in various ways. We would always use the filets right away. Then other small steaks would be cut, packaged and frozen. Finally, the bulk of the meat went into wonderful ground venison. I haven’t had it in ages and need to go find some. If you know of a good source, let us know.
One of the best things Dad would do with the meat is a very simple recipe for Venison Tips. He would sauté diced bacon until the fat began to be rendered, then added mushrooms and onions, and finally cubes of venison steak. It could either be flash cooked over high heat or slowly simmered for a while to become fall-apart tender. A little salt and pepper and it was done. We would have this over rice or noodles, and it was one of the best things ever. He worked hard for that meal, and we were all the happier for it.
Thinking of that does make me realize that I should probably go back and listen to my coworker’s hunting story and stop being such an ungrateful ninny.
Do you have hunters in your family or are you one? Did you get a deer? If so, what are you doing with it? Any special recipes? Let us know!
Lisa Parsley is a Janesville native writes about food and cooking for Gazettextra.com. Lisa is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.