Yes, those same fine folks that bring you dinner in the fields and divine charcuterie also conduct hands-on workshops in their commercial kitchen. This past weekend’s tutorial topic…venison processing.
Chef Jesse Griffiths presented a dressed 60-pound axis deer, freshly field-harvested from Broken Arrow Ranch in Ingram,Texas. Skinned, gutted and beheaded, and sporting several blue USDA stamps, the lean, fleshy beast tantalized students with visions of venison victuals to come. Chef and his assistant cut, carved and sawed through meat, bone and sinew to hew the hunk into cooking pieces. And raw morsels—hand chopped deer tenderloin, well seasoned. Venison tartare, indeed.
Students also enjoyed pan-fried leg meat, simmered, grill-glazed ribs and venison chorizo a la minute. Innards not to be outdone, deer kidneys made their brash appearance, quickly fried and served with Hairston Creek Farm’s red pepper jelly (a lovely condiment). My favorite preparation of the event, the venison and Richardson Farms pork kielbasa, succulently exceeded my expectations, compelling me to indulge in more than my fair share. (And not just because I helped stuff the casings!)
Chef demonstrated several other cuts and techniques, to be served the next day at a farm site supper. Stuffed rolled flank, brined venison loin, venison liver, kidney and pork pâté, and a neck and shank braise teased this teathered mother of two–for surely I’d turn into a pumpkin were I to attend events two days in a row!
Class participants didn’t go hungry, however. Crusty bread and house-made pâté, mustard and chutney, accompanied by Bosque Blue cheese (Veldhuizen Family Farm) and Thunder Heart Buffalo jerky rounded out the offerings.
Chef clarified meat-cutting, venison-specific as well as in general, and provided plenty of instruction on dishing up your deer. Armed with Dai Due’s thoughtfully composed guide, including a well-researched list of producers and excellent references for the conscious cook, this freshly inspired student is ready to meat the hunter’s challenge.