WOODS ‘N’ WATER: From hunt to hearth, in six or less steps

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: From hunt to hearth, in six or less steps


Alright, now that you have some venison in the freezer, what are you going to do with it?

Why, cook it, of course.

But this is where the trouble begins, especially with folks who are not really in tune with partaking of any kind of game meat — especially deer meat. I had to learn this from experience after marrying a city slicker like my Darlin’ Edna.

Thanks to an old friend of mine, Ken Statske, Edna’s first ever taste of venison came in the form of a roast that Ken had cooked up for us and a lady friend. It was delicious beyond words and, after some begging on my part, Ken gave me the recipe.

Before I start, though, I must say that so many of those recipes that tell you the meat has to be marinated for X number of hours before it is palatable is a bunch of junk, in my estimation.

Another false tale is the one where they make fun of any game recipe that uses any kind of soup to enhance it. This came to mind New Year’s Day when I cooked a venison roast for Edna and she remarked on how good it was. Now, remember, this came from a city girl who never had venison before she got stuck with me (54 years this January).

Over the years, I have done a number of game dinners for a couple of Rod & Gun clubs and one of my main ingredients (thanks to Ken Statske) has been canned mushroom soup, either plain or with garlic flavor. (I prefer the garlic flavor.)

To begin with, if your venison was not properly cared for in the field and butchered correctly — forgettaboutit! If the meat is ruined in the field there is nothing you can do to save it.

For the roast, you will need a 3-5 pound roast (or larger), two cans of Cream of Mushroom & Garlic Soup, one envelope of dry onion soup mix and one 10-ounce package of whole mushrooms.

Place the roast into a roasting pan and rub the undiluted mushroom soup all over it. Be generous and do not dilute it with water. This will turn into a delicious gravy.

Next, sprinkle the roast with the dry onion soup mix. (Hey, red meat, onions and mushrooms: It doesn’t get any better than that!)

Place the whole mushrooms around the roast and sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Then cover the roast with aluminum foil, sealing it to the edges of the roasting pan.

Bake in the over at 350 degrees for a minimum of three hours, depending on the oven and the size of the roast.

When it’s done, a brown gravy will have formed around the roast and the meat will be well done throughout. The gravy goes well on the meat slices as well as mashed potatoes served with the venison.

Don’t worry about leftovers. There won’t be any! 

Note: This recipe will work as well with domestic meat like a pot roast. Honest.

Ready for another one? Generally, we all end up with some stew meat from our processed deer and this is an excellent meat to make a venison stew.

Once again, I sort of swerve from the norm and do not make my stew with flour for a roux. To make my “Deer Camp Venison Stew” you will need 2-2½ pounds of venison stew meat. (If you did not fare that well on the hunt, you can use stew beef.)

You will also need 1/3 cup of vegetable oil and one 20-ounce or two 9-ounce cans of whole tomatoes. Dice up two large onions, seven peeled potatoes, one package of carrots and four celery stalks.

Start the oil, onions and meat in a stock pot and cook on medium high heat, stirring often until onions and meat start to make a thick stock on the bottom of the pot. Then add water, leaving enough room for the rest of the vegetables.

Add the diced potatoes, carrots and celery along with the canned tomatoes (break up tomatoes before you add them). Add salt and pepper to taste.

During this process you may add more water if needed. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it starts to boil, turn down to a simmer until vegetables are cooked.

When finished, I usually let the stew cool off and refrigerate it until the next day. This seems to enhance the flavor and is always better the next day. Serve with crusty rye bread and butter.

Dang it, now I’m hungry!

Hey, I think we have room for one more!

You know, just about everyone has a best friend or two. One of mine was Mike Hanlon, an ex-Marine who I had the pleasure of knowing since childhood. Mike would go with me to faraway deer camps. I would have probably gone to them by myself, but Mike would go just so I wouldn’t be alone in case anything bad happened. He was that kind of guy.

He was also quite an innovative chef, and he came up with a recipe for a really great venison chili that you could enjoy without burning your innards up.

For Mike’s “Chunky Style Venison Chili” you need a half pound of ground venison, and one pound of stew meat diced in small pieces. You also need one small can of tomato paste, one 32-ounce can of whole tomatoes (with juice) and one 32-ounce can of kidney beans.

You’ll need to dice up one large green pepper, two medium onions and five cloves of garlic. Have at the ready one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of pepper, one teaspoon of sugar and three teaspoons of chili powder (or more if you like it hot).

Brown the meat and set it aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients into a large pot, then add the meat and let it simmer for a couple of hours or more.

Even that city slicker I married likes it.

Now that I’ve gone and made myself hungry, I have to make something, I think I will go with the venison stew this time — and for you non-hunters, these recipes should work very well with domestic beef.

You are welcome and, YES, I do have more recipes for another time.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving our great country.