Think of cubes of deer meat as rather tough stew beef. Unless you know it comes from the loin area, cook it slowly with added liquid for the best flavor and texture. When cooked this way, deer meat is a tasty source of lean protein.
Low and Slow
Deer is a tough, dry, very lean meat, depending on the cut. In most cases, it is best cooked with a long, slow cooking method, such as braising or slow cooking. Braise cubes of deer meat in a bit of fat in an oven-proof pan or Dutch oven. Season the meat well with salt, pepper and other desired seasonings. Add red wine, beef broth, beer or juice, as well as onions, potatoes, carrots or celery. Cover and cook the meat in an oven set to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Use a slow cooking method, but alternate ingredients to make a variety of dishes with deer cubes. Add bacon and pearl onions for a French-style stew, combine the deer meat with kidney beans, onions and chilis for a savory chili or cook the meat in liquid and shred it for enchiladas, burritos and sandwiches.
High Heat Sear
A few cuts of meat are tender enough to cook by grilling, roasting, sauteing or frying, including steaks and cubes from the loin area or the ribs. For all other cuts, including rump, round and the chest area, stick with a slow, low heat method. To cook tender cubes of deer meat, string them on kebobs and grill them with a savory marinade. Add them to a stir-fry for an Asian dish or saute them and serve them with a sauce, such as a reduced wine sauce or beef stroganoff. Dredge the meat in seasoned flour and fry it for a simple fondue.
Keep It Safe
Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined 145 F to be the minimum safe cooking temperature for beef, cook deer meat to a higher temperature. Deer meat can carry parasites and pathogens rarely found in beef. Insert a meat thermometer in the beef cubes and cook them to 160 F. Thaw frozen deer meat in the refrigerator, not on the countertop, and refrigerate any leftovers within two hours of serving them.
Deer meat sometimes has an unpleasant, slightly gamey taste, depending on the deer's diet and environment. Corn-fed deer meat has a milder taste than deer that have consumed a diet of acorns, sage or other wild plants. How the meat is handled and processed can also influence its flavor. Be sure the meat is bled properly, field dressed and chilled quickly and adequately for the best taste. As you cook the deer cubes, cut away any fat or connective tissue, which tends to have an unpleasant taste. Marinate deer meat in soy sauce, garlic, tomato or other flavorful ingredients. Use the deer cubes in a mixed dish, such as a soup or casserole to hide any gamey flavor.
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