Farm-raised venison is meatier and more tender than wild game, and also has a big more fat. But they are both leaner than beef or pork. For instance, a 3 ounce cooked serving of venison loin has 139 calories and 5 grams of fat, while the same size portion of pork shoulder has 207 calories and 13 grams of fat.
A three ounce serving of top round venison steak is also a good source of selenium, phosphorus, iron and an excellent source of zinc at 28%, vitamin B-6 at 35% and vitamin B-12 at 80% of their respective RDA values.
VarietiesWhile there are many species of deer, fallow (pale brown/reddish) and axis (white-spotted deer) are the most common farmed and hunted in North America.
Age is the critical factor when buying venison. It will determine taste, tenderness and the best method for cooking the meat. Very young animals may lack flavor, while the meat from older animals is very tough. When you buy game meat from a specialty shop, supermarket or website, be sure you know how old the animal was and how it has been handled.
The flavor of venison varies from mild to pungent, depending on whether the animal has been hung and if so, for how long. The best meat comes from young males and the loin and ribs provide the tenderest cuts. Farmed venison will have a less intense flavor than that which is hunted.
You may get fresh venison from a specialty purveyor but many times, the venison you buy will come frozen. Check the package carefully to be sure it is intact with no tears or holes. Check also that it doesn't contain any frozen liquid, as this might indicate that the meat has been thawed and refrozen. With fresh venison, the meat should be moist and springy to the touch. It should never feel soft or mushy. Be sure to buy from a reputable supermarket or supplier.
Venison is available in many forms including medallions, burgers, ground, stew and braising meat, boneless loin, leg roast, rack of venison, tenderloin and boneless shoulder.
StoringThe same rules for storing other meats apply here. Immediately store fresh game in the coldest part of the refrigerator or keep in a freezer. Use fresh game within one to two days.
Before cooking trim away visible fat, which can impart an off flavor to some game meats including venison. In general, venison can be cooked like beef. Just keep in mind that venison is leaner, with much less marbling than beef and that can mean a tougher end result.
For some good tips for cooking venison check out The Adirondack Venison Companies Cooking Tips and Techniques at http://www.avenison.com/cooking.html
If youÃ¯Â¿Â½re new to the culinary pleasures of venison the best thing to do is to check out some of the websites below for recipes. Or pick up a cookbook that deals with wild game and how to prepare it. Your local butcher or venison farmer should also be able to provide you with delicious ways to inspire you in the kitchen with this somewhat unusual ingredient.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Venison:
- Use leftovers, dice and add to egg dishes instead of sausage or other meats.
- Brown ground venison and add to breakfast wraps.
- Venison burgers are great broiled or cooked on the barbecue.
- Add small cubes of cooked venison to pasta dishes.
- Venison steaks can be marinated in a combination of red wine, olive oil, juniper berries, bay leaves, salt and pepper for a few hours before broiling.
- A venison loin or roast, rubbed with garlic and roasted is sure to make an impression at your next family celebration or dinner party.
- Adirondack Venison Company - www.avenison.com
- Old World Venison Company - www.oldworldvenison.com
- Rancho Venison - www.farmedvenison.com
- Recipe Source - www.recipesource.com - search on venison
- Venison Forum - www.venison.com
- Venison World (recipes) - www.venisonworld.com
- Wild Game recipes - http://internationalhunters.homestead.com
- Complete Venison Cookbook From Field to Table by Ann Casada, Krause Publications, 1996.
- Venison: Fast and Foolproof Favorites, Selected Recipes, edited by Henry Sinkus, Willow Creek, 2003
- Venison, Game & Fish Mastery Library, by Rebecca Gray, Willow Creek, 1999.
- Venison Sausage Cookbook by Harold Webster, Lyons Press, 2003.