“Use the whole animal — as much as possible, if possible.” “Don’t lose the point of cooking wild game by masking the flavor.” “Use proper cooking methods for the cut.” “Cook respectfully.”
This is the formula for success in cooking wild game from Joshua Schwencke, a Texas culinary anthropologist and chef. Choose your recipe to match the cut of meat to let the flavor and richness of the meat shine through. In this way, hunters can fully honor the animal they have taken from the wild.
Here are two recipes that use braising to tenderize and intensify the flavor of venison.
VENISON OSSO BUCO
Osso buco is an “Italian grandma” dish, according to Schwencke, and can be made from cross-cut venison shank. Ask the processor to cut the shank from the hindquarter (the front shank will work, too) into cross-cut pieces, or try using a reciprocating saw to do the cuts yourself. The resulting cut of meat has a good bit of muscle and a bone, which will lend good flavor in the cooking process. The presentation is also quite lovely when served over a saffron risotto (traditional), a parmesan mushroom risotto, or with humble mashed potatoes.
Dredge the shank pieces in seasoned flour. Using a Dutch oven or enameled cast-iron pan with lid, sear the shank pieces in olive oil until crust forms. Remove from pan and deglaze with red wine, scraping the bottom of pan to remove the crusty bits that cling (also called “fond”). Put shanks back into pot with vegetables and dried herbs. Add enough beef or game stock to cover and bring to a simmer. Finish in the oven at 300 degrees with lid on for about an hour until meat is tender. Garnish with fresh basil before serving.
Kaldereta is a Filipino dish that combines a rich sauce and hearty meat into a savory stew. Like any good slow-cook recipe, the steps to making it are more of an art form than a procedure but use the following as a guide to transform your venison into a masterpiece. David Montesino, HCN’s managing editor, said that every kaldereta is a bit different but his version below, with adaptations for game meat, absolutely requires the characteristic flavors of pineapple, lemongrass and tomato.
Using the trim from a venison shoulder or ham (deer, elk or pronghorn will work), cut 2-3 pounds of meat into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes, removing all silver skin. Add olive oil to an enameled cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, and sear meat until dark brown. Remove from pot. Deglaze pot with red wine and add liquid to meat. Set aside off the heat while you make the sauce.
For sauce, combine the following and sauté in olive oil.
When onions are translucent, add:
Bring this mixture to a boil and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add meat (and more broth as needed), and add:
Cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer and let cook for at least 90 minutes. Test the meat for tenderness. Before serving, remove bay leaves and star of anise, and stir in:
Serve over white rice and garnish with chopped green onions or scallions.