All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


Meet the Meat Part II

Back in Meet the Meat Part I, we started talking about cooking venison.  The way to have great wild game meat on the table is to use proper technique in the butchering, care and cooking.  The technique is more important than even the recipe.

A recipe is basically a list of ingredients that when combined will produce a specific dish.  How those ingredients are combined and the method of preparation determines how the dish is going to turn out.  Because its been a couple of weeks since I started this series of posts, I'll restate the high points on fixing game meat:

Res's Rules for Cooking Venison.
  1. Get all the blood out
  2. Meat must be room temp before cooking
  3. Marinating is helpful, although not necessary
  4. You don't have to over cook it
I've already talked about the impotence of getting the blood out last post, so I'm not going to rehash that again.  The last three points all have to do with keeping the meat from getting too tough during the cooking process.  Venison doesn't have a lot of fat mixed in with the muscle fibers.  Fat in meat provides some "wiggle room" for the cook and covers up any mistakes in the cooking process.

Lets look at beef steak for an example.  If you order a nice rib eye steak, that is fully marbled with delicious beef fat, and it is cooked well done, it will still contain moisture and be more flavored than say a sirloin cooked the same way.  The rib eye will maintain a degree of tenderness that exceeds that of the sirloin.  Part of that has to do with the cut of meat.  Rib meat doesn't work as hard as sirloin when the animal is on the hoof.  Part of it has to do with the fat being present during the cooking.

Venison as I've said has very little fat.  Therefore to keep it tender we need to make sure the muscle fibers are as relaxed as possible prior to cooking it.  If the meat is room temperature then there won't be as much tightening or constriction of the muscle fiber due to cold.   It's pretty simple but its a step that is over looked by many. 

Another technique that can be used is tenderizing.  Tenderizing is pounding the meat with a small mallet to help separate the muscle fibers prior to cooking.  Depending on the type of dish being prepared it can be a good method to use, but it isn't always practical. 

Marinating is your friend.  You don't have to do it of course, but when done correctly it adds nice flavor, and a bit of juicy goodness to your meat.  There are lots of marinating recipes you can use.  The key is in how long the meat is marinated and if it is completely covered in the liquid.

A basic recipe I use for  marinating venison steaks that I plan on grilling is:

Olive oil
Baggs apple cider vinegar
Crushed Garlic

That's it, just four ingredients.  How much I make depends on how much meat I have to grill.  If you use about a cup of olive oil you only need enough tamari to blacken the oil, about 1 table spoon, or more to taste.  Use slightly less vinegar than tamari and as much garlic as you like.  Stir it up in  a bowl and let your steaks set in it, in the fridge, over night.  I let the steaks stay in the marinade until they are ready to go on the grill.  This means that I set the meat and marinade on the counter to slowly warm up to room temperature before cooking.  Then the steaks are put on the read hot grill still dripping in their marinade sauce.

That's it for this post.  Next in the series, Hirsch Sauerbraten.


  1. WaterBoy5:15 PM

    Sounds good, I'll give it a try. Thanks!

  2. Susan2:17 AM

    Something I learned from my local grocery butcher was to substitute a can of plain cola for the water when you make a teriyaki style marinade. With all the other ingredients, it makes a flank steak taste nice, and is very tender.

    Your comments about fat and marbling is why I love the cut of roast called 7 bone. It is called that because there is a bone that looks like the numeral 7 in it. Not because it has 7 bones.
    It has so much great beef flavor that no other cut of roast has really. Makes for a nice pot roast dinner.

    Could you remind me the difference between soy sauce and Tamari again? Is the flavor stronger and more concentrated in Tamari?

  3. Tamari is a Japanese style sauce that is the byproduct of miso production. Soy sauce is brewed or fermented. Taste wise Tamari is stronger but it has a lot less salt. As a rule Tamari is gluten free, if that's a concern. Personally I like the taste better. It adds a distinct flavor without reminding me of chop suey.

  4. WaterBoy5:04 PM

    I have a cedar-wrapped salmon recipe that I use soy sauce in, and now you've got me curious how it would be with tamari, instead. I always thought the soy made it a bit salty, but I also use sesame oil to tone it down a little.

    1. Give the tamari a try. I think it has a good flavor without the extra salty taste.

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