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Why Sous Vide is Perfect for the Hunting Camp

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Wanna be the favorite person at the hunting camp? Grab these few items and you’re all set to whip up some amazing meals with little effort!

Imagine….. autumn has arrived and it’s time to head out to the hunting camp. There’s so much to do! There are feeders to fill, game cameras to check, brush to cut. With all the work to be done, often supper gets “put on the back burner”. Get it? The guys will likely just heat a can of Ranch Style Beans. Ick.

This is where The Deer Slayer’s Wife can step up with something amazing and wow everyone at camp. If your hunting camp has a power hook up, you can use a sous vide cooker. It’s truly effortless. It also frees you up to help out with other chores associated with getting ready for deer season.

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Throw these things together:  any stock or soup pot at least 6 inches deep, some vacuum seal bags and a hand pump (you can actually use plain zipper bags in a pinch),  some cooking twine (in case you want to prepare a football roast).  It’s not in the picture but I ALWAYS bring my Salt-Pepper-Garlic Powder mix.  I put it on everything.

You’ll need a pot at least 6 inches deep for this particular sous vide cooker.  When it’s just going to be Deerslayer and me, I take the small 6″ pot.  If I’m going to be preparing a larger cut of meat for more people, I use a larger pot.  Ah, the freedom to choose!20180717_153943-265839914.jpg Then grab some frozen venison from the reserves you have in your freezer, a little olive oil, and maybe some fresh or dried herbs, and head for the hunting camp. You can use backstrap, tenderloin, football roast or other individual muscles from the hind quarter previously thought to be too tough to serve medium rare as a steak.

On the day you want to have the venison, take a break from the hunting chores and get things rolling mid-afternoon. See if the meat’s still frozen.  If it is, no worries!  Fill the pot with clean drinking water or distilled water within about 2-3 inches from the top of the pot.  On my sous vide cooker, there is a water level indicator that lets me know how much water I need. Next, attach the cooker to the side of the pot and plug it in.  Set the temperature at 131 degrees and let the water start heating up.

While the water’s heating, remove the frozen or semi-frozen meat from its bag, very liberally season it with salt, pepper, and garlic mix.  Place the meat in a fresh vacuum seal bag.  Add some fresh or dried herbs (maybe rosemary, thyme, oregano), some fresh garlic if you want, and a drizzle of olive oil.  You may have figured out by this point that there’s no real right or wrong way to do this part.  Then seal the bag and remove as much of the air as possible so the meat stays completely submerged in the water.  I usually attach the plastic bag to the side of the pot with a wooden clothespin.

Now, you’re ready to place the meat in the water bath.  I clip mine to the side of the pot with a clothespin.  You can set the timer for about 3 hours if the meat is frozen or 1 1/2 hours if it is thawed.  Once the water has reached 131 degrees, the timer will begin ticking away.

This is where the magic starts! Because the water is not boiling, you can go about your business until the meat is ready. If you aren’t back from your chores when the meat is done, no problem.  The water will keep it at the perfect temperature for up to a couple of hours.  After that, the texture of the meat will be affected somewhat.

Once the your venison is ready, remove it from the bag and place it on a cutting board. Pat it dry while you heat a skillet pretty hot with some butter or olive oil so you can sear your meat.  20180908_194040-1512771251.jpg

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I served this roast with horseradish sauce, some wilted spinach, onion, and bacon and also some garlic mashed potatoes.  Pretty amazing for the hunting camp.

Do some research about how to use the cooker and the wealth of wild game recipes!  There’s so much information about the Sous Vide method on the internet.  I got my first recipe from my nephew (venison football roast) and then found other recipes for wild game online.  Anova (the brand of my cooker) has LOTS of information.  Conor Bofin’s One Man’s Meat has become my go-to for sous vide information, outstanding game recipes, and witty stories.  His photography is a feast for the eyes, as well.

Hank Shaw’s Hunter-Angler-Gardener-Cook is another great resource.  Hank is an inspiration with his wealth of recipes, foraging tidbits, and hunting stories.  He also uses the sous vide method for many of his recipes.

Hunting season is upon us!  Grab your pot full of cooking magic, do a little research, and put on your hunting camp tiara because you are gonna be the camp queen!  Oh, don’t forget a bottle of wine for your highness!

 

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Hunters, This is a Game-Changer! Sous Vide Cooking for Wild Game

I’ve never thought of myself as a trend setter. Nor have I ever been one of those people who stands in line to be the first to own the newest gadget. More of a traditionalist, I’d say. I keep my phone until is seizes up and takes its last breath. I don’t need Alexa or Siri interfering in my personal affairs. But I came across a contraption recently that has changed the way I look at wild game cookery. I think I’d stand in line for one of these.

My college-aged nephew introduced me to SOUS VIDE cooking. During a recent visit to his place, I had noticed something peculiar on the counter in his kitchen. He told me that, about 3 hours earlier, he had plopped a frozen, vacuum-sealed venison football roast into a regular pot of water with a sous-vide contraption clamped to the side of the pot. He showed me how he set the temperature and time by pressing some buttons.

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This is a football roast that I prepared.  It was not frozen when it went into the water so I set the time for 2 hours rather than 3.

(I believe incantations surely must have been chanted.) When the three hours were up, I watched, mesmerized, as he removed the meat from its hot water bath, freed it from the plastic bag, seared that puppy up for color in a smoking hot skillet and served me some of the best venison roast I have ever had (and I’ve had a lot!)

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The meat was juicy, flavorful and as tender as backstrap or tenderloin. It was wonderfully medium rare from edge to edge. I reeled!

“This Changes everything!”, I stammered.

Deerslayer agreed as he sampled the roast. The ability to season raw meat, place it in a vacuum-sealed or zip-lock bag, drop it in a pot of hottish water (not boiling) and walk away blew my mind. No stove, no crock pot. This cooking method is perfect for the 107 degree summer days in south Texas. It brings the meat just to the perfect temperature for your desired doneness (obviously medium rare) and then keeps it there until you are ready for it… without overcooking it or heating up the kitchen! The only conventional stove usage is at the very end for a beautiful sear. Done.

I’m so excited about this new method of preparing venison that I want to share my experiences. I plan to experiment with other varieties of wild game as well.  However, I will not be providing a review of my Anova  because, as I discovered, there’s plenty of information on the internet for you to check out on your own and videos available.  I’ll let you know when I find some great sous vide tips and where I find them. I hope you will follow me as I delve into these new uncharted waters.  I’ll keep you posted!

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Cooking, Recipes, Uncategorized, Venison

 

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Yay, Sous Vide!

In my exuberance, I posted just these pics.  No text. however, some of you got it anyway.  You already know the magic of of Sous Vide cooking!

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

New Cast-Iron Is Very Sexy

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone.  Good riddance!  Those of you who know me, know that the Deerslayer household does not acknowledge the day. You can see my thoughts on the matter here.  Valentine’s Day should be called Unnecessary Excessive Spending Day.

If we DID celebrate the Hallmark Greeting Card Day, and if I hadn’t just received one for Christmas,  I’d want this amazing oval cast-iron  roaster.  Deerslayer got this one for me and I love it.

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This extra large, oval roaster is exactly what I needed to prepare venison shanks with white wine and garlic.

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The extra length allows the roaster to fit over two burners on the stovetop so that larger bits like shanks can be browned all at once.

It’s beautiful and elegant in its simplicity. Downright sexy!

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Roasting garlic for the Braised Venison Shanks With Garlic and White Wine.

While it’s pretty hefty, weighing in at 26 lbs., my Cabela’s cast-iron roasting pan with lid will also work beautifully for preparing large quantities of “cook-all-day” meat.

I’m so lucky that Deerslayer knows me so well that he knew that some sexy new cast-iron was the perfect gift that will keep on giving for generations.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Cooking, Uncategorized, Venison

 

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Life Sucks When Your Vacuum Sealer Won’t!

I just bought a new vacuum sealer because, after three and a half years, my old one finally bit the dust. When processing lots of meat at home, it’s worth it to have a good, hard-working vacuum sealer.  When we first started packaging up our own meat, I used the Ziplock hand-vacuum system.  It’s nice to use since it doesn’t require electricity and I still use it for small jobs. smoked pork shank, rum cake, tamales, dance, christmas 089

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As our processing jobs grew, so did our need for a more streamlined process in the form of an electric vacuum sealing system.  In addition, an electric vacuum sealer allowed us to cut our bags to order and use heavy duty plastic bags which hold up better in the freezer.

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I purchased a mid-priced Rival vacuum sealer. It certainly got the job done.  Even though it was awkward and frustrating to use, it still made the job easier and protected the meat from freezer burn. The process required the very difficult maneuver of sliding an open corner of the bag over a tiny vacuum mechanism. The bag had to be held in place with one hand while the lid was closed and then hard pressure from both hands was required to snap the lid shut before the vacuuming commenced and the sealing occurred.  Nine times out of ten, the weight of the contents would pull the bag away from the vacuum mechanism.  I usually ended up devising some sort of platform for the bag and its contents to kinda hold things in place. Even with the cursing and grumbling and need for three hands, it still allowed us to prepare our meat in all its forms for the freezer.

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However, after about 3 and a half years (four hunting seasons), it gave up the ghost.  It would no longer vacuum out all the air from the bags (which is the archenemy of frozen meat) or create a good heat seal.

Realizing that I was going to need a replacement, I looked at reviews online, for the model that I was replacing and to get some idea of what I should get to replace it.  If only I’d checked the reviews before I purchased the first one!  They were marginal at best and echoed the same issues I experienced with the same model.   I should’ve paid more from the start for a vacuum sealer that would get the job done over the long haul.

The FoodSaver V4400 is the one we decided on.  It cost about $140 from Amazon.  It does everything we need it to do… with much less effort.  It is fully automatic which means that all I have to do is place the bag into the slot (which is low enough to the counter that the weight of the contents isn’t an issue) and the machine senses the bag and begins the process, freeing up my hands. It also has a retractable hand-held vacuum.  It was designed to work with vacuum zipper bags, FoodSaver containers, canisters, and all other FoodSaver accessories including wine stoppers, jar sealers, and the Quick Marinator. It works great with the vacuum zipper bags.  I use it for cheese!  I haven’t tried the other applications yet.  The pull-out tray drawer that catches extra liquid is extremely easy to remove and is dishwasher-safe.

I’ve got to say I’m impressed so far.

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Let it be known that I’m not trying to sell this product.  What I AM trying to do is let everyone know how important it is to do your homework.  Don’t just run out and buy a product without thoroughly researching it.  Reviews are out there from other people who have had issues or kudos to share.

I’ve been thinking about getting a pressure canner and possibly a sausage stuffer.  I will definitely be checking out the reviews and let you know what I find.

 

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Leftover Venison Shanks! Yay!

Of course it was a wonderful Christmas holiday!  The family was together and there was no shortage of food.  As a special treat for our older daughter, I prepared Hank Shaw’s Venison Shanks in Garlic Wine sauce using meat from the deer that she harvested over Thanksgiving. Since she’s moved out on her own while she works on a doctorate, it was also a training session.  It’s always beneficial to cook for yourself when you have healthy lean meat at your disposal.  But when you can get a second meal, all the better.

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I had already shared with her that she could kill two birds with one stone by doubling up on the sauce. Rather than preparing Hank’s recipe as written, it’s better to double the amount of sauce so there will be some left.  If there’s also meat left over, all the better.

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Chopped Venison Shank with Mushrooms in Garlic and White Wine over Noodles

  • 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms
  • a bit of butter
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • leftover sauce
  • chopped, leftover shank meat (or cook-all-day meat, or whatever cooked meat bits you happen to have)
  • a package of egg noodles (prepared as directed)

In a cast iron skillet, melt a bit of butter and sauté mushrooms. Add a touch salt and pepper.

Add leftover sauce (it may be a bit gelatinous) to the skillet and stir in, lowering heat to a simmer until sauce is heated through.

Add any leftover meat and heat through.

Serve over egg noodles with a side of nice veggies.

 

 
 

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Hunters, Read This Before It’s Too Late!

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Okay, this isn’t actually an emergency.  But it IS one of those things that needs to be said early in the hunting season.  Read on.

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Hank Shaw, celebrated author of several outstanding wild game cookbooks and my go-to source for anything related to cooking wild game, foraging or fishing.  About a year ago, as I was leafing through my copy of Hank’s cookbook, Buck, Buck, Moose (available at Amazon, walmart.com, and Barnes & Noble) I stumbled upon several recipes that really piqued my interest.  Unfortunately, the recipes required venison shanks.  It never really dawned on me that I wouldn’t have the correct cut of meat needed to prepare the feast.  I’ve always been a huge proponent of using every inch of any animal that my Deerslayer harvests.  And yet I stood in front of an open freezer looking for a key ingredient that I didn’t have.

Thus the warning!  Don’t toss those shanks away.  If you know that a delicious meal can be had, why would you?

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These are the fore and hind shanks from one animal.  They provided 2 meals.

The recipe that I decided to try was Hank’s Braised Venison Shanks with Garlic.

You can find his recipe and directions here.

The recipe calls for the shanks to be browned on all sides (except the shin side) in a container large enough to hold them.  That was tricky.  The only thing I could find large enough to accommodate the shanks was my turkey roaster.  I have to admit that it didn’t work great because it doesn’t conduct heat like cast iron but it got the job done.

Because of the width of my turkey roaster, I doubled the ingredients needed for the braising liquid.  It turned out for the best because the braising liquid is then used to make a sauce that is superb!  There was sauce left over.  You’ll want to use it on leftovers, pasta, anything.

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Everything fits and it’s ready for the lid.

 


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The meat is on a cookie sheet ready to be basted with the sauce I prepared and glazed in the oven for some more time to optimize the roasted garlic flavor.

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The masterful photographs that accompany Mr. Shaw’s recipes are beyond compare.  When I tried to serve my shanks “on the bone”, they rolled off the plate and made a mess.  I cut the meat from the bones, which didn’t make as beautiful a presentation, but saved my tablecloth… and rug and clothing.

An outstanding dish…. loved by all.

Save the leftovers.  I have another recipe for them!

 

 

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