Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Venison Cornucopia
This year I was able to get an eight point buck during the Pennsylvania antlered deer season. It was close to my home place, just along Poplar Run Road. I was glad that I didn’t have to trudge too far off the roadway, I sprained my ankle more than a month ago and I still have pain in the joint. As long as I am careful, it isn’t bad, but the strength to keep it from happening again on the uneven surface of the woods isn’t there. I don’t want to reinjure it.
Another good thing is that my brother has an ATV quad and I didn’t have to drag the heavy carcass too far. Those off road machines are great for older guys like me. It’s not that I mind the exercise, but there is a small leap to a heart attack with the heavy towing.
Ken, my brother, and I hauled the buck back to an outbuilding on his property. We hung it on a lift and peeled off its hide to let it hang and cool before I would take it home to butcher.
I spent most of the past two days cutting up the carcass and wrapping it to freeze. I butcher my own deer, because I want to be sure that I get the same deer, the same amount of meat back, and a deer that hasn’t sat around unrefrigerated for days. I remove the meat from the bones before I cut the meat. Deer bones are brittle and often will shatter when cut by a band saw. If the bones don’t shatter, the saw makes a “saw dust” of ground bone that I don’t like either.
I remove the inedible bits and hair. Some butcher shops are careless in these things. If I find anything that I don’t like, I know who to blame. I got almost fifty pounds of steak and “chunk meat.” Chunk meats are the smaller pieces of venison, too small for steaks. I sometimes cold pack it, grind it and make it into bologna or sausage. This year, I decided to freeze it in bags with smaller portions.
There were some pieces that I cut specifically and put aside to use for jerky. Yesterday, I made the marinade for the venison strips, poured it over the orts of meat in gallon bags, and placed them in the cold on my back porch to allow the flavors to permeate the meat. This evening, I will start to dehydrate it.
My mom bought two smaller dehydrating “ovens” that holds several racks. The low level of heat slowly dries the meat, vegetables, or fruits placed inside.
The leftover scraps don’t go to waste either. I could have cooked everything in a large spot and made a meat pudding like my ancestors, but I stated over the last few years to put all of the inedible bits into the rib cage cavity and hang it in a tree at the edge of my property. It looks more like Halloween, but for the crows, ravens, and the blue jays it’s Thanksgiving with the rib cage being a cornucopia of fresh food for them.


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