!!! I’m warning you right now there are going to be images of a dead deer in this post!!!
So the last time I really gave you an update I had decided I was calling it the Non-Farm and I find that really fitting.
Gah! Getting this post out on time as been a struggle. I’d like to offer you lots of images, et cetera, yet, even though I’m super into photography I don’t have many pictures of what I want to write to you about and I didn’t know I was going to write about these things at the time.
Maybe a listicle? Idk. . . these tend to be about half list/half novel as it is. We’ll see where we are when we are done, eh? Nah – I think I’ll talk about hunting and give you a recipe. Tune in next Wednesday for more Non-Farm things. . .
The growing season is over, and I already told you how well that worked out for me! Monday I talked about my ethical views on food, and I will need to explore that a little deeper, but today is not that day! Today is reaping the rewards of hunting day.
My dude gets us a deer every year for our freezer. Say what you will. I’d even love to see your perspective in the comments below, but if it’s hateful, ignorant trash I won’t entertain it.
As I said – my dude gets us a deer every year. He hunts. I butcher. I’ve done it for a living, that’s our trade-off, and I really enjoy it.
This year he got a BIG, beautiful White-Tail and has such a great story about how he got it. On the last day of the season even (Halloween!)! But that’s his story to tell so you can just use your imagination here. You could put your version of that in the comments below, too. I’d love to see what you come up with.
Back to the deer. We live far enough out of town that we have deer in our yard all of the time (even this morning, there was a Mule-Deer buck and a doe by the barn just hanging out. It’s the rut right now. (Mating season)) Yet they tend to be elusive when it’s hunting season. They really are intelligent creatures. . .
This year my dude also got bird licenses and I’m so very excited for that to be fruitful.
First off was Sand-hill Crane – the Prime Rib of the Sky – there are always a few in the field across the road from us, but they are high fliers and not as dense in population as other parts of the country. The season ended on November 11th, so we’re passed the window this year, and unfortunately he didn’t get any.
It’s turkey season right now and he’s been going out every morning trying to find one (our limit here is 1 in the fall) and hasn’t had much luck yet, but he has some time still.
He can also hunt doves, geese, and ducks.
But so far just the deer. It’s okay. I can be patient.
As I said he got himself a White-Tail Buck. His uncle runs a non-profit, chair-bound hunting organization that is so very wonderful, thus, we were able to utilize his refrigeration facility to hang the deer.
Normally we would just hang it in the garage for a couple of days, but this year Mother-Nature had a sick sense of humor and it was nearly 60 degrees outside, which is unfit to hang a carcass in.
Ideally you would want your ambient temperature to be around 30 degrees to inhibit any bacterial growth, but definitely not above 41 degrees (these are Fahrenheit) because between 41 degrees and 135 degrees is the ideal temperature range for bacteria to thrive. Meat does not freeze until it is 28 degrees.
Also, as I have a hectic schedule and Halloween was on a Wednesday this year, I was not able to butcher until the following Saturday. It’s best to hang your animal for a few days and doesn’t actually hurt it. This is called dry aging. It allows for the blood left in the animal to evenly distribute and makes the meat more tender and flavorful. There’s more to it than that, but you get the gist. There is also a process called wet aging that I may go into if I decide to wet age anything he may want to put in the smoker.
This time around no organ meat was saved, but next year, I think I’d like to save the heart and liver (you need to check the liver for spots because that indicates disease) and possibly kidneys? And the call fat.
My dude and his dad skinned the buck and I de-boned it while it was hanging. I then took the larger pieces and broke them down, cleaned them, and cut the entirety into steaks and trim (to be frozen and ground at a later date.)
Deer are small, but I’m a little out of practice, so I think it took me about 2.5 hours to complete. I just cut mine in the dining room. It’s perfectly acceptable to cut your animal in a warmer environment so long as you don’t let it get above 41 degrees for a period of 4 hours. (This is known as time and temperature control. I think I should write an article about food safety. . .)
Last night, actually, we ground the deer meat. I do not currently own a grinder, so I had borrowed my dad’s. I thawed the trim, which I had split between 8-1.5 pound bags, to a state where it was still slightly frozen in the middle. Deer does not have a lot of fat, so it is easier to get a good grind that isn’t mushy when it is still partially frozen. My dude trimmed some fat off of a few pounds of bacon and we mixed that in with our grind. A better fat to add would be bear, ideally, or beef kidney fat, but we had bacon and that’s what we used.
It’s important to note that unless you have a reliable vacuum sealing system, the best way to wrap your meat for long term (1-2 year storage) is the wrap it in cling wrap, tightly, pushing out as much air as possible as you go, then wrapping it with a wax coated freezer paper, again, pushing out as much air as possible. Then simply secure it with some tape and make sure to write the species, cut, and date on the package. This will help you when you go back to your freezer to determine what you’re going to make for dinner!
Would you like me to write an article on how to butcher a deer?
One more tip: Make sure you love your knives. I’m terminally particular with my tools. I have a Forschner Boning Knife and that is all I use. If it were a larger animal I would also need a Butcher’s Knife. I also have a Forschner Skinning Knife that I adore. I like this brand because they are well balanced, the handle has a great grip, and the blade holds an edge for a long time. The blade also moves with the cuts if needed, but is not so thin that it is flimsy. You want something that will be an extension of your dominant hand, but also can be precise. Know that these knives are pricey, but you really should be willing to invest in your equipment.
Nowwwww. . . . On to the recipe(s).
Stew: (This stew would work with any red meat, but I used Lamb and Venison this weekend and it was phenomenal.)
- 2 lbs Red Meat
- 1 lb Bacon
- 4 large, waxy potatoes (Golden is my preference)
- 4 large carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 large onion (I don’t EVEN want to hear that you don’t like onions. You do.)
- Fresh Mushrooms
- 1 Bulb Garlic
- 1 16oz Beer (I always feel the darker the beer the better, but PBR is what we had and I really love cooking with that beer as well.)
- 3 T Flour
- 1/2 C Barley
- 2 sprigs Sage
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- Pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp Allspice
- 2 sprigs Rosemary
My dude recently got me an 8″ cast iron skillet (I used to have a bad-ass set my parents got me and I don’t want to get into why I don’t have them any more because I am STILL pissed.) That would be ideal to cook this recipe in (for starters), I wish I had a dutch oven, but I don’t. Either way, you will want a larger pot with a heavy bottom.
- Cut up the bacon into small pieces and fry in skillet or bottom of pot. Dice the meat into bite sized pieces and sear in the bacon grease. Remove bacon and diced meat from pan and set aside.
- Dice your veggies into bite sized pieces and fry in the bacon grease, I always save my garlic until last so that it does not burn. Potatoes and carrots should be first because they take longer to cook, then add celery and onions. Then garlic. 🙂 Remove from skillet and set aside.
- De-glaze the skillet with a bit of the beer, and pour the grease and beer de-glaze into your pot. Add your meat, veggies, and the rest of the beer and bring to a boil. Once the liquid is hot, take about a cup or so and shake it in a shaker with the flour and add it back to the pot. (Instead of de-glazing you could make a roux if you are ambitious.)
- Add your barley and seasonings and simmer on low, covered, for 2.5 hours. If it does not thicken enough, repeat the flour and liquid slurry process until it does thicken. Don’t you dare add cornstarch. Creep.
While you’re waiting for that to cook down you can make your. . .
- 4 C flour
- 4 T sugar
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 C butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 C buttermilk
- 1/4 C buttermilk
- 1/4 C butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F), lightly grease a baking sheet
- Sift together your dry ingredients
- Cut in 1/2 C softened butter
- Whisk egg into buttermilk and add to your mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.
- Form into a round ball, and place on baking sheet. Say a prayer for your family to be nourished by the good food they will be eating and whatever else you’d like to pray for while you score a cross into the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
- Mix remaining butter and buttermilk, brush loaf with mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then brush with mixture again every 10 minutes until done. This is usually at the 50 minute point. You can check for a golden crust and, much like you test a cake, if a tooth pick comes out of the center clean, you’re set. Pretty much, if you go more than 60 minutes, you’ve gone too long.
Set the table, gather your family, and enjoy a fantastic winter meal!
Hope you enjoyed this article! Let me know what you think of the recipes and if you tried them! Let me know also if you need any trouble shooting for those recipes!
P.S. – My dude’s sister-in-law got him a Treeing Walker Coon Hound puppy the Tuesday before Thanksgiving!