Venison’s back on the menu!

One of the biggest adjustments for me since moving to Ohio is that, for the first time in my life, I had to buy beef.  And holy cow  (no pun intended) just a roll of burger is expensive – not to mention steaks!

Growing up, we bought hunting licenses and when deer season came around each fall, we all filled our tags.  We processed our own meat; from skinning the deer to grinding and packaging the meat, we did everything.  We made our own hamburger, sausage, jerky, bologna, pepperoni, sliced lunch meat, steaks, etc.  There was always meat available, and it would last us until the next fall when archery season opened again.

It took some getting used to at first, not always just having meat on-hand.  Not to mention it’s at least $12 just for the cheapest beef steak in the store.  Growing up, all of that was free.  I was also not prepared for all of the nasty grease that beef has.  Venison, if butchered and cut correctly, is about 99% lean so there really is no grease – this, I have discovered, makes cooking and cleaning far easier and cleaner.

There are many more reasons why I prefer venison over beef:  I believe venison, being more lean, is healthier because it lacks all the saturated fats.  Venison also does not contain any artificial growth hormones or chemicals like beef often does – you can never really be sure how a cow was treated or what it was fed, but you can be completely certain that a deer harvested from the woods is 100% organic!  And, venison is far cheaper than beef, too.

When my father did research and figured out what all kinds, and cuts, of meat we made from our venison vs. buying the exact same things in beef from the store, he concluded that we saved well over $2,000 annually – just from eating venison instead of beef.  Not only because we did the butchering ourselves, but because deer tags do not cost that much – and they are the only cost of the meat.

Venison is such an easy, and versatile meat.  In our family, we love cooking and eating it, so here are a few of our favorite recipes:

Venison Stroganoff
Serves: 6-8
1 1/2 Pounds boneless steak (about 3/4 ” thick)
1 Medium onion, diced
1 Can (10.5 oz) Cream of Celery Soup
1/2 Cup white cooking wine (or chicken broth)
1 Can of mushrooms (optional)
1/4 Teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 Teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon black pepper
1 Cup sour cream
3-4 Cups white rice

– Slice venison across grain into thin strips.  Dice and saute onions in 1 Tablespoon of butter, before adding them to the sauce.  In a crock pot, pour all ingredients, except sour cream, over the meat.  Cook on low for about 6 hours.  Add sour cream and stir.  Serve hot over rice.

Salisbury Steak
Serves: 8
2 Pounds ground venison
1 Small onion, diced
1 Cup beef broth or bouillon
1 Package Stove Top Stuffing (beef or cornbread)
2 Eggs
3+ Cups brown gravy

– Mix first 5 ingredients and shape it into eight patties.  Fry on a non-stick skillet until patties are cooked through, then add gravy.  Stir until gravy thickens, then serve.

Venison Stew  (this is a recipe my father created)
Serves: 12
1 1/2 Pounds venison roast, cubed
1 Can corn with juice
1 Can peas with juice
1 Can green beans
1 Cup carrots, diced
1 Large onion, diced
3 Medium potatoes, cubed
1 Cup water
29 Ounces tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons butter
4 1/4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 1/2 Teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 Teaspoons salt
1/4 Teaspoon sage
1 Teaspoon garlic powder

– Add all the ingredients, except the canned vegetables, into a large crock-pot and cook on medium-high heat until the carrots are tender and the meat is cooked through.  Once the meat is cooked, reduce the heat to low and simmer.  Then, about half an hour before serving, add the canned veggies.

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