Venison is a great for stir fry because stir fry is cooked hot and fast and when frying venison, hot and fast is the way to go to retain the juices in the meat and prevent your venison from drying out. Choice cuts of venison are great with stir fry but they are also great for many other recipes so you might want to save those backstraps and tenderloins for other recipes. If you have ever tried to fry small portions of venison you may have noticed how dry and tough they can become. There is a way to make those “ less than choice” cuts more tender for your stir fry and it is a technique called velveting.
Velveting meat is a great way to tenderize thin slices of venison but it also creates a silky smooth texture and helps make your stir fry a hit with family and friends. There are several ways to velvet meat. I like to use the oil method for red meat but you can use the water method as well. Water velveting is often used for white meats like chicken or wild turkey breast or if oil is not part of your diet.
1 pound venison cut in ¼ inch slivers (all sinew removed)
1 bunch of cilantro chopped makes approx. ½ cup
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cups cooking oil
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
Prepare The Stir Fry: Incorporate the velveting marinade ingredients slowly in a medium mixing bowl. You must mix slowly to keep the egg white from frothing. If the egg white becomes frothy it will not adhere to the meat properly and will disintegrate when cooked. Place your thinly sliced venison into the marinade and again mix slowly to coat all the meat evenly. Cover the venison and set aside while preparing your stir fry ingredients.
Prepare the peppers by cleaning and cutting them into strips. If you do not like big bites of bell peppers then cut them to your desired size. You can use just a green bell pepper but yellow and red bell peppers add some more color to your dish and with the chopped cilantro there is already some green.
Peel and crush your garlic. Chop your garlic to your desired size. You can sliver the garlic for a more powerful garlic taste if you like big chunks of garlic in your dish. If this is the case then add another clove so the bigger pieces will distribute throughout the stir fry and give you more pieces in the dish. You can use minced garlic in a jar and the flavor is great but I enjoy preparing fresh ingredients when time allows.
The cilantro is one herb that I always use fresh. It is more than obvious that the flavors are much more pronounced in the fresh chopped cilantro. Chop a bunch of cilantro for your stir fry. A single bunch of cilantro is the bunch sold in stores. Cut the top off your bunch of cilantro and discard the lower stems. The upper stems are OK to use but I like to pick them out as well so that my chopped cilantro is free of stems.
Velveting Your Venison: Now that all the ingredients are prepared for your stir fry you can begin the velveting process. Using your wok heat enough oil to cover a third of your marinaded venison completely to medium temperature or around 275 degrees. Add a third of your venison to the heated oil and separate each piece so they are evenly coated with hot oil. You don't want the meat to sizzle so turn down the heat if it starts to sizzle. After 30 seconds or so remove the meat and set aside on a paper towel and add the remaining venison a third at a time until all your meat has been velveted for your stir fry. Pour all but about 3 tablespoons of the oil from the wok and turn up the heat.
The Stir-Fry: Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in the wok until very hot. This is just when the oil begins to smoke. Be ready to add the ingredients as they will reduce the heat and keep the oil from burning. When the oil reaches this temp add the chiles and peppers and continuously stir for 60 to 90 seconds then add the garlic and continue to stir fry for another 30 to 60 seconds. Now add the venison and stir fry for 90 seconds. Next add the cilantro and the soy sauce and cook another 30 seconds. Turn off the heat now and add the sesame oil for flavor. Stir fry venison can be served with rice or chow mein noodles but for a southern twist sometimes I serve mine over mashed potatoes.
Note: Stir frying, if done properly, can really cause a lot of smoke in the house so I prefer using an outside burner to do my stir fry. A wok is also great for stir frying but you can definitely use a skillet. Stir fry can absolutely be done indoors without a problem, because it is cooked so fast the smoke will be brief just have the range hood fan on high.
Backstrap On A Stick
I was introduced to steak on a stick on the beaches in Southeast Alaska. It was in the winter when most folks tend to just hang out and enjoy the slow pace of the Alaska winters with friends. Snow was falling and had already blanketed the beach with just a few stray pieces of drift wood exposed. The fire was welcoming as the sounds of our laughter was muffled by the snow filled air and the lapping of sea water on the shore. My friend's mom was away from the group preparing something and I noticed her slicing steaks up into bite size morsels. Being interested in cooking I approached and asked what she was preparing. She stated that this was all there was to it and I watched as she speared the bite size sirloin onto the end of a whittled down willow limb and handed it to me, “now go roast it like a marshmallow.” she said. I looked at the meat a little funny and asked if there was any marinade or sauce, " nope," she replied, "that's all there is to it." That was the beginning of not just a great way to prepare steak but also a great relationship with an excellent Alaskan cook.
Steak on a stick is as simple as it sounds and is perfect for a campfire allowing you to grab a bite when you want it. It is always a hot bite of delicious steak anytime you get the urge while enjoying the great company that always surround the fire. Steak on a stick is great straight out of the pack but some marinade can be added for some more unique flavors to your meat. If your group is large then you might even offer more than one flavor to the mix. Just keep the meat in containers for everyone to enjoy. Steak on a stick is a great way to enjoy the season's wild game. My favorite is fresh back-strap especially with a hunting buddy after a great hunt in the backwoods camp as we remember the day and enjoy the real reasons for hunting. Steak on a stick is so simple that I am going to include a great side dish in this article for your enjoyment with the roasted protein even though I can sure make it on meat alone.
A great side dish for steak on a stick is a buttery steamed vegetable medley that is just as simple as the steak or back-strap. I won't list ingredients to this recipe because it can be so varied by taste and preference but here are the simple steps to a simple campfire dish that can also be picked at as you roast your steak on a stick.
Preparation : First lay out two pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil in a “T” shape. I always double the foil for durability because your might be moving the vegetables around the fire to get the best temperature which will be explained in the cooking part of these steps. Use longer strips of aluminum foil than you think you need so that when you roll the ends together on top of the vegetables there is enough foil to form a nice handle to grip so you can easily move them around.
Once the foil is laid out then it is time for the ingredients of choice. I always use onions and potatoes to start but then whatever is available or the preferences of the group determine the rest and of course when the kids are along I leave out the onions just so they will eat some of the vegetables. You can fit a lot of ingredients in the standard width of aluminum foil but if you want more just build two separate foil steamers. Once the ingredients are in place sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and add a half stick of butter on top and bring the ends up and together above the vegetables and combine by rolling together. This doesn’t have to be perfect just make sure that the vegetables are covered and there is at least an inch or two of separation between the foil and the veggies on top. This allows the buttery steam to do its work. Inspect your foil and be sure that the foil is even all around your veggies so that there is a minimum of one inch of solid foil around the bottom so there is no possibility of the liquids can escape.
Cooking: Now that your vegetables are ready to cook it is time to prepare an area by the fire to set them so that they slowly steam to perfection. You can cook this on a grill if you like but when cooking steak on a stick I like to use the campfire for the whole deal and besides once the veggies are done they can be opened up and enjoyed at your leisure by keeping the package covered and close to the coals. If your fire ring has a grate then great you can just set the foil on the great and move it in or out depending on the intensity of the heat needed to simmer the vegetables. You can hear the butter and the water from the vegetables themselves bubble in the foil. If you hear hissing it is too hot. Just move the foil away from the heat. I usually just set the vegetables next to the fire on a rock and occasionally rotate them so not one side get too much heat. The cooking process is by the steam created inside so direct heat to the bottom is unnecessary.
Enjoy the campfire: Now that your vegetables are complete you can set them aside just close enough to the fire to keep warm and nibble on them straight from the foil or serve a little at a time on a paper plate as you roast your steak on a stick. This is a dinner I have enjoyed many times during many different occasions with friends and family. I am still amazed at how many people have never heard of this great way to prepare steak or wild game much like I had never heard of or even thought about it that day on the beach in Southeast Alaska. I remember saying that day that I would never feel sorry for those cowboys that had to cook their meal on an open fire again. I promise you will be delighted at the flavor of the meat when roasted on an open flame and I hope that it becomes one of your favorites, like it is ours, at your campfires in the future.
ENJOY YOUR HARVEST
2 to 4 lbs Venison Meat Barbecue Sauce Salt & Pepper
Deer meat is what we called it in the old days but venison does have a more palatable ring to it so we'll go with that. Venison is a great addition to anyone's diet and when properly prepared, taste fantastic. Deer hunting is an activity that millions take part in every year but so few eat the deer they harvest. This is a simple recipe that anyone can prepare and one I think you and your whole family will enjoy and hopefully convince more people to fully enjoy the excellent table fare that venison can provide.
There are so many great ways to cook venison and my family and I consume at least two deer every year and as each deer season approaches I inevitably find one or two deer hams left in the freezer. This recipe is so simple that there is no excuse not to prepare those last packages of deer meat from the season before.
Preparation: To cook the venison I like a crock-pot but a large pot on the stove will do fine. Fill your pot half full of water and set on high just to get the water up to temperature before submerging your venison. The venison should be rinsed well then any large pieces of fat and sinew trimmed away. You don't have to get carried away with the trimming, the fat will give it some flavor and most of the sinew will cook away. I leave my ham on the bone while cooking but if needed you can certainly remove it. The only seasoning I use is salt and pepper but you can add any of your favorite seasonings.
Cooking: When the ham is trimmed it's time to place it into the pot. Set your temperature to low or medium and cover. Cook at this setting for 10 to 12 hours. You can tell when the meat is ready by inserting two forks in the meat and pulling it apart. If the meat easily separates it is ready.
The Barbecue: Creating the barbecue is even easier than preparing the meat. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Remove the meat from the pot and place in a cooking pan. Using two forks shred the meat so that you are left with a pan of shredded venison. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and mix it in well. The amount of sauce depends on the amount of meat as well as personal preference. I try to go a little light here and add some when I build my sandwich. You want to lightly coat all of the meat with barbecue sauce.
You should now have a pan full of shredded venison ready for the oven. This step is not to cook the meat but to heat up the sauce and allow it to penetrate the venison. Cover your pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. I remove the foil the last 10 minutes to allow some of the moisture to escape the meat. This is also a step that can be omitted or adjusted to your personal taste but be careful because if you leave the foil off too long the venison will become very dry.
Enjoy: Now enjoy the fruits of your harvest and complete the circle of the hunt. Grab some buns and build a delicious sandwich, I like mayo and jalapenos on mine, and enjoy with a tall glass of ice tea and some chips. There is no better feeling than to enjoy the game and fish we love to pursue. I have as much fun cooking and eating my harvest as I do hunting it and what a great way to keep the outdoor spirit alive and share it all with family and friends and maybe convince them that fishing and hunting is so much more than just the pursuit itself and that they should give it a try. I have had more than one friend say they might have to take up deer hunting after devouring one of these barbecue sandwiches. Hope you enjoy.