November 17, 2008
[BUMP from 2/08]
[Update 11/08: We didn't do our group deer camp this year. So I was at home for Opening Day. The next day Martha was biking through the fresh (tracking) snow to the grocery store and spied a big 7-point dead in the ditch along the road, still warm. Ah-ha! So I jumped into gear, got the permit, and got my buck after all! More tasty vittles!]
[Update 11/08: TRAVERSE magazine is doing a story/pics about *someone's* roadkill scene in their 1/09 issue. Let's see what happens!]
Last week my brother notified me on his way to work that there was a fresh yearling deer dead on the road. Perfect! I went and picked it up and got a roadkill permit from the police.
The next day we were going to visit friends in Chicago. So when I got the deer home I got to work. Actually, it only took 10 minutes for my mission. I made "the Poacher's Cut" on the deer. I didn't gut the deer or even make it bleed. I just made a couple slices and pulled the hide away from the lower back of the deer---then I cut out his backstraps, or tenderloins, plus the best top-steak roasts of the rump. Done!
We brought one of the backstraps to Chicago along with a super bottle of Nebbiolo (Vietti Perbacco 2004, $20). We roasted up the meat with wild mushrooms and wild rice'n'olives for a feast for 6. Wow!
I felt as good about that deer as I do about deer that I hunt. It was good not to let a deer go to waste. I didn't really have the time to butcher the whole thing---being in the midst of book deadlines---but, darn, I got the best of it. It seemed like a great way to get some great meat, better than storebought, in the midst of a busy schedule. (The rest of the deer I dragged far into public hunting land, where that's OK. ...Never leave a carcass in an awkward location.)
Say, here's a great webpage with info to help you butcher your own deer: www.eckrich.org. It's actually darn simple. It's rewarding to experience how sensible butchering is: you just follow the muscle groups. You can pick them out with your eyes and fingers then just cut here and there to free up your favorite steaks! I used to not like the smell of fresh meat that much, but now that I've been doing more butchering I've come to appreciate it. I can smell the quality and it's good! (I've also smelled low-quality---the side of a dead deer that has been laying on the ground can become spoiled if it's been out all night. It might not be actually smell bad but you'll be able to tell the difference between it and the best meat.)
Some websites and teachers seem to make butchering overly complicated. There's way too much sawing and not enough following the muscles. Maybe it's more the traditional "restaurant" type of butchering. Who knows. My pro (restaurant) friend taught me differently and I'm happy for it. Here's a couple sites showing ways that I do *NOT* recommend, just for your info:
Ah, I see that "The Nuge" goes along with my way: bowsite.com/bowsite/features/tednugent/butcher.cfm.
Now, I personally don't do any burger or sausages. I love all of this meat! People seem to do these preps to "hide" the meat some. Even the "coarse" cuts seem plenty tasty to me: we'll have em as smallish steaks with quesadillas and salsa. Like a fajita. Oh yeah! Someday we'll get a grinder, I suppose. But til then I love steaks and stews!
Also: I don't marinate it. I keep it simple! I cook it like beef. It's great! I don't need a vinegar flavor in with my meat.
[Update 2/08: Got another one! More backstraps and roasts in the freezer!]