Many hunters and cooks confine their affections to the tenderest portions of venison, such as the loin and rib cuts. That's unfortunate, because tougher portions such as the shoulder, shanks and even neck are richly flavorful when they're slow cooked to tenderness. For example, gently braising your venison in tomatoes in a slow cooker results in both tender venison and a richly flavored sauce to serve with it.
Plug in your slow cooker and preheat it on the high setting for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the venison.
Wipe your venison with clean paper towels, removing any stray hairs or debris from the meat cutter's saw. Trim away any surface fat, which will give the venison a gamy flavor.
Brown the venison in a heavy skillet, turning it until all sides are well seared. This step is optional, but makes the venison more flavorful. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper or any other flavorings you like with venison.
Transfer the browned venison to your slow cooker. Add onions, garlic or other aromatic ingredients, if you wish. Pour in canned tomatoes with their juice, until the tomatoes come halfway up the sides of the venison. You can also use ripe fresh tomatoes and pour in canned tomato juice or beef broth for the rest of your cooking liquid.
Replace the lid on the slow cooker. Simmer the venison on the "High" setting for three to five hours or the "Low" setting for six to eight hours, until it's fork-tender. The exact time will vary, depending on the size and cut of your venison.
Transfer the meat to a serving tray and let it rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 10 to 15 minutes. While it's cooling, cook down the tomatoes to a thick, sauce-like consistency. Serve the meat and sauce with your choice of side dishes.
Items you will need
- Venison shoulder, shank or neck
- Paper towel
- Heavy skillet
- Salt and pepper, or other seasonings
- Onions, garlic or other aromatics
- Canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes and tomato juice or broth
- Serving tray
- Aluminum foil
- Canned tomatoes have a richer and more consistent flavor than store-bought fresh tomatoes, for most of the year. If you're fortunate enough to have good-quality fresh tomatoes, by all means use them.
- Peeling your tomatoes before adding them to the slow cooker gives them a better appearance, and prevents your sauce from containing leathery pieces of tomato skin. Good kitchenware stores sell special peelers with serrated edges, which work well for tomatoes. Alternatively, drop the tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds. This loosens the skins, making them easy to remove with a paring knife.
- On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals; Sarah Labensky, et al.
- Montana Outdoors: Venison Alchemy
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images