Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Great Deer Adventure

SO, we were awakened at 10:30 on Thursday morning, a little early for us considering we fell asleep at 4am.  We had a gig the night before. It was Don's daughter Lily who lives a few doors down the street. Her family is on The List, people who are called when the Texas Parks and Wildlife officer gets a freshly killed deer. It was a young, healthy buck that had been caught in a fence and the officer had to dispose of it humanely. Lily's family had plenty of venison in the freezer so she called us and brought it over for us to slaughter. We had not field dressed a deer before, but the officer told her 'YouTube it', so we did.

It's a surprisingly easy operation when you have the right tools. Lily let us borrow her engine hoist and that made everything go smoothly. When we finished skinning it he laid it out on some old planks and butchered it in quarters. Venison is very lean and dry and to cook it you always have to add fat from other animals. Even the sausage you make from it has to have added pork or beef fat.

We like to have cooked meat in the freezer to start our meals, so we decided not to bother cutting steaks and roasts from the animal, just to quarter and slow roast it all. Then we'll bone out the meat and package it in 8oz. packages and store in the freezer, to be used in preparing meals. Slow roasting will make it tender and juicy without having to add fat.

The deer gave us 47 pounds of oven-ready meat and lots of bones for roasting and turning into stock. That's a great haul for a couple of hours of work.

I told Don to look all manly and stuff but he only succeeded in looking friendly and competent.  

We started out with our Official Huge-O Roasting Pan which held a full haunch and shoulder and roasted it at 300 degrees for 2 hours, then 275 for another 3 1/2.  Then we let it cool in its own juices and put it in the fridge to chill, very important for locking moisture in the meat.

I made gravy with sauteed onions, portobello mushrooms and the cooking liquid from the roasted venison and put in sliced-against-the-grain meat at the very end so it wouldn't cook to pieces. Don had baked potatoes ready and we chowed down. A-MAY-ZING!!!

We had enough meat for dinner (twice) and 11 8oz. packages of cooked meat to go in the freezer.

UPDATE:  The total was 18 1/2 pounds of cooked meat and at least 4 gallons of very concentrated stock.                                                                        

The bones, gristle and all the liquid from the roast went into a stockpot to simmer for 24 hours.  This is just the first installment, there's lots more meat to deal with.