Thursday, December 1, 2011


When I was in my early teens, there were no deer around here. Whitetails lived in upper Michigan and Wisconsin. Mule deer could be found in the Rocky Mountains. The first live deer I ever saw was about a mile away on the battlefield near Gettysburg, PA where Pickett’s Charge occurred.

A friend’s older brother and father went to Colorado and shot a couple of mule deer. His mom cooked a roast from the deer and offered me a piece. It was tough, coarse, a bit gamey and it seemed the longer I chewed it the bigger it got in my mouth. Of course, being the most exotic piece of meat I’d ever bitten into, I savored it ever bit as much as a filet mignon from Ruth’s Criss.

Now, I’m not so enamored of roast venison. In fact, I once wrote a column claiming there’s no such thing as a good venison roast. I’ve eaten plenty of them. Some were tougher than others. Others were coarser than some. I’ve had gamey-tasting ones, bland ones and none I would ever ask for the recipe from the cook.

Don’t get me wrong, I love venison steaks. I enjoy venison hamburgers. Venison jerky is terrific. I’ll choose venison sausage over pork sausage. Just don’t roast it. So I decided to give it one last try.

I cut a 4 pound rump roast from a 1 ½ year old doe. I browned the roast on all sides in a bit of vegetable oil then transferred it to a slow cooker. The technique is called braising - slow roasting while covered with liquid. I made the braising liquid from one can of Beefy Mushroom soup, then using the soup can as a measure, I added a can full each of Burgundy wine and vegetable stock. I also mixed in a quarter cup of Dijon/horseradish mustard and a coarsely chopped onion. Low and slow was my goal. I adjusted the cooker until the liquid just barely boiled and cooked the roast for 8 hours.

The result was the best venison roast I’ve ever eaten. Certainly not the best roast meat I’ve ever eaten; certainly not the best venison I’ve ever eaten.

But it was tasty, not gamey. It was chewy to a degree but didn’t swell in your mouth. Though braised, the meat in the middle of the roast was a bit dry. But what did I expect, beef bourguignon?

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1 comment:

  1. I have a mule deer roast sitting in my freezer and I've been waiting for something like this to try it!! Thanks for posting this!!