How to Cook Wild-Killed Venison

mikey031 is lucky enough to be splitting a wild deer with a friend, and is looking for the right ways to prepare it. After all, while most of us are used to cooking with beef and other farm-raised meats, working with venison can be a different endeavor altogether.

The first thing to know is that venison fat is different from beef fat—and not in a good way, either. "I've found the fat of most game cuts to be the source of that somewhat off tasting 'gamey' flavor," says mikey031. kaleokahu agrees: "Venison fat is very strange stuff, can be gamey (depending on age, hangtime, shot placement, etc.). Even at its best, there is something about the consistency of venison fat that many people (including lifelong hunters like me) find repulsive: it will put sweaters on your teeth and it congeals at higher than room [temperature] into a greasy, nasty mess. So if you're having sausage ground, have the maker substitute pork and/or beef fat." (mrbigshotno.1, for example, processes his own antelope into sausage, and mixes in beef suet from the grocery store.)

Second, venison doesn't cook like other meat does, kaleokahu says. It's best cooked quickly at high heat, broiled, or flash-seared, and it doesn't benefit from slow cooking. "There's almost no intramuscular fat, so overcooking just toughens it up," kaleokahu says. "I once made the mistake one time of trying to kipper a beautiful backstrap, and the interior turned out just like gray toothpaste."

Try your fresh venison in CHOW's Italian Venison-Sausage Sandwiches.

Discuss: Hunted Deer