The story behind how I came to get the venison featured in the recipe starts like a cautionary children’s tale- yet instead it renews one faith in the kindness of strangers and reminds us of the importance of slowing down and talking to others. One thing I miss greatly about my time this summer in West Cork, Ireland was talking with other people. In the town we rented a house in everyone talked to each other, the question of “how are you doing?” was asked with genuine curiosity. The old man in the butcher shop who wants to share some poetry? You put down your bags and listen. I pride myself in being a friendly runner back here in the states. I wave, nod, say hello, and exchange looks of shared pain with other runners. I often sound like the love child of Darth Vader and Marilyn Monroe as I rasp out a “hi” to whomever I pass, but rarely do I stop. However, a month ago while on a trail run with Biscuit, I came across a hunter and stopped to chat. I don’t know why I decided to stop and talk to this tall man, decked out in gear and carrying a large bow. The man was incredibly nice and after a few minutes of chatting about the benefits of deer hunting in the area, expressed his frustration that when he is out hunting and comes across non hunters and says “hi” or “good morning” they will often give him the cold shoulder. I saw it happen as we were standing there. I have never hunted in my life, but respect those who do especially since this part of Iowa is overrun with deer who cause accidents and damage property. He hunts for food and takes much pride in the fact that the death that he gives the deer is swift, merciful and with respect. Bow hunters don’t take a shot unless they know it is a good one. Hunters who hunt for food are not bad people, and if you see hunters this winter, don’t be afraid to say “hi” back. We parted ways with me giving him my website info and telling him that I would welcome any extra vension he might have. A few weeks later I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from him and a cooler full of delicious venison cuts. One of those cuts were the tenders of the deer which just melted in my mouth and are included in the recipe below.
I became interested in cooking with game a few years ago after reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. You can find the book and ingredients used in the recipe below in my Amazon Store. In the book Fallon dispels common misconceptions about the nutrition of game. One of those is that game contains less saturated fat than domesticated animals. Ruminants’ intestinal tracts contain special bacteria that convert the unsaturated fats and carbohydrates from plants into saturated and monounsaturated fats. Another misconception and one that has been played out in the media and by advocated of low fat diets is that because game is lean, ‘the caveman diet’ was a low fat one. This is not only inaccurate but the promotion of a low fat diet, is in my opinion, dangerous as it results in a diet lacking in good saturated and monounsaturated fats and is too high in polyunsaturated fats, refined vegetable oils and carbohydrates. Fat is essential to function. I highly recommend listening to Sally Fallon’s talk on the Oiling of America, she also has many other fantastic talks available on YouTube that are perfect to listen to while folding laundry, cleaning, etc. Hunters traditionally preferred older male animals because of the 40-50lb (in larger animals) slab of fat along the back. The monounsaturated fat filled marrow was consumed along with other saturated fat concentrated areas. (Fallon, Nourishing Traditions) The organ meats and other fatty parts such as the eye balls were also priced parts of the animal. Click here to learn more about the Weston Price Foundation which is my most trusted source on traditional diets and articles that are backed up by real science and fact instead of opinions and fads.
I have found that cooking venison is not nearly as intimidating as I thought it might be. My advice is to marinate the meat to help break down the muscle fibers. Deer burgers need to be watched closely as they cook fast and are very lean- I recommend mixing in some other meats or as I did, sundried tomatoes with olive oil to reduce the potential dryness. Adding cream, butter and sauces to game also helps with flavor. Next week I will be posting recipes on duck and goose and possibly pheasant.
Happy cooking and if you are interested in a meat cooking class or any other of my cooking classes, please click here for more information.
The honey chipotle salsa recipe used in my Honey Chipotle Venison Chop and Tenders can be found here
Honey Chipotle Venison Chops and Tenders
- Honey Chipotle Salsa see recipe link above
- a few teaspoons of smoked alder salt I get mine from Frontier, which you can find in my Amazon Store
- a few teaspoons smoked paprika
- a few teaspoons garlic powder
- 4 venison chops - the amount doesn't matter simply what I had on hand
- 2 venison tenders
- Juice and zest of 1 orange
- 2 cups real bone stock
- Mix together the marinade and marinate the chops and tenders for at least 4 hours.
- Brown each chop for 5 minutes each side. Add in the juice and orange zest, stock and reduce heat and cook for 30-45 minutes depending on how thick your chops are. If the deer was young, you can cook for less time as the chops will be tender as is.
- Remove the chops and keep warm. Continue to cook the liquid until it is reduced and pour over chops.
- Remove from marinade and cook over medium high heat for ~3 minutes per side. Serve rare to medium rare. Do not over cook!