Venison burger is actually way better tasting than beef paties. Ground venison is a dense, rich, and creamy delight. Properly prepared, venison is a lean, high protein meat. Many wrongly argue that it’s so lean you need to add fat to it. Ground Venison, in any form, is filling, not fatty. Let’s turn to debunking five (5) venison myths.
Myth #1: Venison is ‘gamey’ tasting
- No, it’s not. Venison is not gamey tasting. Wild game generally isn’t ‘gamey’ (when it's processed properly) at all. Like most myths however, there is an element of truth wrapped up in the myth. I’ve eaten beef that, when processed poorly, tastes gamey (or at least what people think of when they think of gamey tasting meat). Making sure your venison experience is a good one starts with how the animal meat is cared for. This is why we highly recommend processing your own venison.
- Why many people say venison tastes gamey and to be clear - those sentiments aren't a mental thing either - has to do with poorly procured ingredients. Deer tallow, tendons, and endocrine glands in wild animals can have a strong and oftentimes off-putting flavor. Again, this is precisely why we recommend processing your own meat: removing tallow, connective tissues, and glands takes time, time many if not most butchers (even good ones) can’t afford when they’re making $60-$100 a deer to process a whole animal. Wild animals processed as if they’re undergoing treatment found on a commercial farm can taste bad.
- Butchering game yourself starts and ends with attention to detail, being deliberate in your approach, and thorough in your execution. Chief among this diligence with whitetail is making sure you remove every bit of tallow (fat), before you freeze it for later use. Free range animals taste better, not ‘gamier’ when properly cared for.
Myth #2: Venison is too tough and quite dry
- Consistent with our theme, there is a subtle truism here too. Venison is lean. It’s very lean. If you overcook venison, or any other really lean meat for that manner, you will dry it out and it won’t taste great. Dried out venison steaks have the consistency of unsalted play doh and taste like chalk. Cooked to 165 degrees, what's considered 'well done' venison is anything but.
- Suffice it to say if you like your beef tasting like shoe leather and often order it well done, then venison steak might not be in your wheelhouse. Worry not as there are plenty of other ways to prepare lean meat. You can create venison pot roasts and fajitas; you can make venison stew, chili, or soup; you can cook up venison meatballs, meat pasta, or meatloaf; there’s venison tacos, burritos, and salisbury steaks too. Any meal that involves ground beef can be substituted for the healthier, and frankly better tasting alternative. Venison, like other organic foodstuffs, needs to be managed properly (tips below on how to make this happen).
Myth #3: Corn fed deer taste better
- Wrong. This too isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of science. The flavor of venison isn’t affected by diet. As we know from synthesized corn slurpees (high fructose corn syrup drinks), corn is great at at least one thing, building fat reserves. But, since members of the deer family don’t have intra-muscular fat (aka marbling). And, since It’s this marbling in corn fed cows that flavors the meat, we know that corn fed venison doesn’t have the same flavor benefits from marbling as corn inspired beef does. Contrary to popular belief corn/grain fed deer in reality have a ‘stronger/gamier flavor’ not a more mild taste (C.L. Hutchison, et. al., 2012).
- The mistake the general population makes, as outlined above, is thinking that deer meat is synonymous with and analogous to beef. Alas it is not. The further you push yourself away from the 'corn fed is better' argument the more these revelations start to make sense. Ask yourself, what’s the alternative to corn/grain feeding? Answer, Grass fed. If not towards grass feeding then where has sustainable cattle farming been moving? And we've all heard someone we know raving about how great grass fed bovine tastes. Lastly, what do wild deer feed on if not grass and an assortment of leaves, natural browse, and young regenerative forest growth. Sources of sustainable animal proteins taste better, but not because it’s raised on corn and grains.
Myth #4: Red Meat is still Red Meat
- According to the USDA venison is much healthier than beef. In an editorial by North American Whitetail, ‘Venison Nutrition: What Every Hunter Needs to Know,” and data compiled by Hank Shaw in 2016. Not only is venison leaner than beef, ounce per ounce, it’s higher in protein! For instance, 7oz of venison will have 300 calories and only 4.8 grams of fat. Compare that to 7oz of beef which has 410 calories (nearly 17% more) and 20 grams of fat (76% more fat content). In addition to calories and fat, venison is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins & Minerals (and is a better source of iron than beef as well). Locally sourced animal protein is healthier than anything you’ll find at a factory farm or on a fast food menu.
Myth #5: You need to add fat to ground venison (otherwise it falls apart)
- If you’re considering adding fat from either venison or any other animal to ground venison, think again. First, whatever you do, don’t add deer fat/tallow (i.e. sinuet) back into otherwise lean venison grind. Sinuet has a bitter, waxy, off-putting taste (this might taste 'gamey' too). We’re not talking the same kind of bitters found in a whiskey sour or even double-IPA microbrews either. Frozen, then thawed, deer sinuet is even worse tasting than fresh tallow (don’t add it unless you and everyone else who will be dining know in advance that they enjoy this otherwise acquired taste).
- I would also like to point out that by adding pork fat (or fat from other animals for that matter) you simultaneously change the flavor and texture of the venison, you strip away many of the health benefits we outlined above, and you more than likely are left with a no-longer sustainable/locally sourced food source. More than whether your meal is still organic or free range enough, how enjoyable that meal is matters too. With a few quick and easy meal preparation tips your venison will be every bit as delicious as promised.
- For Moist, Cohesive, Delicious ground Venison try the following:
- What ingredients do I need?
- 1 pound twice-ground, ground venison
- (course, then fine ground)
- ⅓ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- (Optional) Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
- Add one pound of open range, ground venison, ⅓ cup bread crumbs, and one egg to a bowl. Mix all ingredients together until just mixed. Do not over mix the meat.
When you consume a protein from an animal that was properly field dressed, processed, packaged, thawed, and cooked, I can promise two things. Number one, it’ll be delicious. Number two, it tastes nothing like anything you’ve ever consumed before.
If you haven’t taken the leap into veganism or vegetarianism and are looking for #free range, #organic, #sustainable, #locally sourced meat there’s no greater an authentic medium than venison.
Article written by Mike Hiller
C.L. Hutchison, et. al., 2012: 'Effect of concentrate feeding on instrumental meat quality and sensory characteristics of fallow deer venison' ' https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0309174011003731
Hank Shaw, 2016: ‘‘Venison Nutrition: What Every Hunter Needs to Know” https://www.northamericanwhitetail.com/editorial/what-every-hunter-needs-to-know-about-venison-nutrition/263034