The pickle man

Monday, January 17, 2011

Deer: It's what's for dinner

This is my baby brother (well, he's 20 now and considerably taller than I am, but still) with his latest trophy buck.  In my neck of the woods (yes, I said it), this is a pretty big deer.  For all of you hunters, this one scored a 144.

 Joe will now be the only student at Tulane with two trophy bucks mounted on the wall (I'm guessing, here, but since I'm an alum, it's an educated guess).  I hope his landlord doesn't read my blog.

Hunting is a way of life for most of my family - men and women.

My little sister - probably around age 14 or 15 - with her first deer.  This is definitely NOT a trophy buck. 

Another sister with Dad over Christmas break - about to hunt.

Why, you may ask, do I not hunt?  Since gender was never a reason in my family?  It's a short story.  My husband took me duck hunting in a pirogue that he built.  He dumped me out (accidentally?). I didn't want to be whiny (then, at least) so I endured the next 2 hours of the freezing cold hunt (in Louisiana, 38 qualifies, especially when you are soaking wet).  I promised myself that once we were out of the woods, I wouldn't go back in.  And so far I've kept that promise.

Oh, and I don't want blood smeared all over my face.

 I used to worry about my sons' psyche, with all of this killing and bloodshed. I mean, we feed the ducks on the bayou all year, but his father, grandfather, several aunts, and uncle shoot ducks and deer for a few months a year... I haven't let him watch Bambi yet.  We stick to The Lion King, where eating antelope is part of the circle of life.

He asked his dad yesterday "When are you going to kill some more ducks?  They are really pretty and you can pet them because they hold still."  Um, YIKES!

And when he was 2, his father briefly used his swingset as a deer-cleaning station.  I'm sorry now that I don't have better photographic evidence.  But that's got to be disturbing for a two year old.

My friend's kid, about 5 at the time, was not the least disturbed.  In fact, this may be the origin of his infatuation with hunting.  Notice that for some reason, the poor deer is not the center of this photograph.

My own, sweet son, aged 2 at the time, looking at me with a very troubled expression. 
Well, life philosophy aside, the reality is that a fair amount of hunting goes on in this house.  Maybe Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) would be proud.  At one point in the book, he says something about hunting no longer being a way of life, except for certain "pockets of the country."  I live in a pocket.

Here's how I sometimes cook the deer.

When you pull venison steaks out of the freezer, they don't look very appetizing.  Now that I think about it, they don't look any better when you pull them off of the deer.

First, I used this really cool Jaccard meat tenderizer Santa gave me
This is Jaccard's photo.  It's a pretty cool little kitchen gizmo.  But don't let your kids play with it. 

The result looked like this.

Then I put some flour in a shallow bowl and seasoned it with salt, garlic powder, and black and red pepper.  Oh, and I recommend tasting the flour (before you dip the meat in it) to taste for seasonings.  Yes, it will still mostly taste like flour, but you should get some hints of the other stuff. 

Drop the deer steak in there, flip it over, and get the flour to stick to it as much as you can. 

Meanwhile, your oil should be heating on the stove.  I recommend a cast iron skillet.  But ideally, you need one with a lid that will fit. 
I was not so lucky.  I made do with an inverted serving plate, but it wasn't pretty. 

After your meat gets nice and brown on both sides, remove it to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.  Then toss in some diced onions. 

Once those get browned and delicious, add 1/4 cup or so of flour.  I use the seasoned flour left from dredging the meat, but whatever.  Stir until it is a smooth, brown paste.  Brown it a little more.  Then add enough water to make a thin gravy.  Don't worry - it will thicken up.  
Put the meat back in and let it cook for another 15 minutes or so. 

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or even just with bread.  

I promise, you'll forget it's venison. 

Condensed recipe:
1 lb round steak or venison steak, tenderized (you can also use a meat mallet)
1 cup flour
1 Tbs salt
garlic powder, black pepper,  and red pepper to taste
2 Tbs vegetable oil or butter (plus more, if the meat starts sticking)
1/2 cup onion (optional)

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Mix the flour and spices together.  Dredge the meat in the flour mixture.  Fry in the hot oil, about 1 minute on each side.  Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.  Add the onion and fry until slightly brown around the edges.  Add the flour and stir.  Add water until you have made a thin gravy (taste for salt and pepper)  Return the meat to the gravy.  Cover and cook on low 10-15 minutes (or longer). 

Serve to your hunters :)

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to make that soon. I've got a freezer full of meat that I don't really know how to cook. And, nope, I don't know how Nathan's obsession started. He just calmly told me one morning when he was 3 or 4, "Mom, you know I was born to hunt and fish."