Do you wonder why your deer meat tastes gamey? Find out what cooking mistakes you might be making to make delicious meals with venison.
Why does my deer meat always taste gamey? Have you ever wondered this?
If you’re anything like me 4 years ago, you definitely are. You might have a stash of venison in the back of your freezer, collecting freezer-burn, and every time you try to make something with it, it has this weird, metallic taste to it.
I might be an expert on working with wild game now, but when I started out, that sure wasn’t the case. I grew up in a household where we ate mainly pork, beef and mostly chicken. Sure, I’d had deer jerky at a BBQ, but we never ate it at home.
When I met my husband Jared, who is an avid hunter and fisherman, I suddenly found myself with pounds of deer meat in the freezer that would get wasted every year. This REALLY bothered me because I believe that if you’re going to hunt, you should respect your harvest. For my husband and I, this means consuming as much of it as possible.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve learned a lot about cooking with venison. So much so that I’m actually coming out with my first all venison cookbook and my wild game recipes are some of the most popular on the internet. Click HERE to get on the waitlist to pre-order my book!
I think the biggest overall mistake I find people making is cooking venison like you would cook beef.
In this post, I’m going to break down the 5 biggest mistakes you might be making. A common theme I see is home cooks swapping venison directly for beef. This may work in very few cases, but in most it won’t.
Venison is leaner than beef and it has a different flavor profile, so they aren’t exactly interchangeable. They’re both red meat types, yes, but just making a few simple switches when subbing or working with venison will make a huge difference.
Here are the biggest venison cooking mistakes you could be making:
- Overcooking your meat
- Not using fat
- Not using acid
- Under-seasoning the dish
- Not cooking tough cuts of meat long enough
Overcooking your meat
I know a lot of people like medium to well-done steaks. But, with venison (and elk) when you cook the meat past medium-rare, you get a metallic flavor and tough texture.
You should only be cooking your steaks, tenderloins, and backstraps to 120-125F (130F at the MAX) and then you should rest them tented under foil for 10 minutes before servings.
This helps preserve the tenderness of the meat and the natural flavors can shine, and are much milder.
Not using fat
Venison is a lean meat. It needs fat to be tasty. That’s why restaurant food tastes so good, because chefs use plenty of fat. I’m not saying you have to down your meat with melted butter or fry anything, but you want to make sure you’re mixing some sort of fat (like ground bacon fat) in with ground meat and using plenty of oil (I like good quality EVOO) in marinades.
Not using acid
This is my favorite cooking tip/hack and it works wonders. Adding acid to dishes, marinades or cuts of meat is a game changer.
Acidic foods, like citrus juice & vinegars, brighten up the heavy flavor of venison, bring out the best tasting notes, and cut through a bit of that “gamey” flavor.
I make sure to use acid in all of my marinades (it also helps to tenderize the meat), and in almost every single dish I make with deer meat. Adding some acid to a dish you normally make with beef if a good first step to changing a recipe to work with venison.
Under-seasoning the dish
Food that lacks salt, pepper and flavor just doesn’t taste good! It’s important to properly season venison dishes because having enough salt and seasoning makes you want to go back for more!
Not cooking tough cuts (like leg, neck & rump roasts + shanks) long enough or with enough liquid
Tough cuts of venison, like roasts (from the neck, shoulder, or rump) or shanks have a lot of sinew or connective tissue running through them. In order for these cuts of meat to be tasty and tender, they need to be braised (or slowly cooked in liquid) for enough time that the connective tissue can melt.
In the early days, when a roast wasn’t falling apart with a fork, I would still pull it out of the oven and try to cut it. Now, I baste the meat with cooking liquid in a pan and keep roasting it low and slow until it is fork-tender. The slow cooker or an Instant Pot is a great tool to use here.
All of the venison recipes on Miss Allie’s Kitchen keep these exact principals in mind and everything is expanded upon in my cookbook.
Click HERE to get on my cookbook pre-order waitlist! Comment below if you have a question!