With all due respect for those who tunnelvise that big chunks of venison
must be roasted, I submit (strong evidence supports my thinking) that they
are missing some delicious chicken-fried venison.
My culinary mind has been wandering along these trails since a day
many years ago when my good friend, Dan Gapen, the Minnesota fishing tackle
manufacturer, and I returned to his pickup camper on a windswept lake in
northwestern Manitoba with a double limit of bluebills.
By the time we had finished cleaning (picking) those 20 ducks the sun
was failing and we were hungrier than a pair of grizzly bears just out
of their hibernaculum. It was 30 or 40 miles to the nearest settlement
that could afford any kind of eatery, not to mention that we were right
where we wanted to be for a daylight hunt the next morning.
Circumstances decreed that our din-din would consist of a can of whole-kernel
corn--and some fried potatoes he had started on the stove. That was not
the fare our tired bodies needed. Our bag of ducks offered plenty of meat
to augment the corn and taters, but the oven of his camper had gone “kerbluey”
some time before and there was no way--nor enough time--to roast a duck
Fishing a filet knife from a drawer of cooking gear, Dan announced that
we would have a duck dinner. Grabbing a fat bluebill and shaving off quarter-inch
strips of meat from the breast, thighs, and those cute little drumsticks,
Dan soon had a neat little stack of duck. When the cooking oil started
to sizzle in an old iron skillet, Dan started placing a single layer of
duck strips in the bottom of the skillet.
There was no flour for dredging the strips, but Dan administered salt
and pepper as he stood there turning the sizzling strips of meat almost
constantly. When they were starting to brown a bit, he removed the strips
of meat, replacing each with a strip of raw duck.
By the time the potatoes were browned, the corn was hot, the little
stack of browned duck strips were on a platter, and in the dying quivers
of the day we sat down to duck dinner that was as good as any roast duck
I have ever surrounded.
I have never forgotten Dan’s culinary caper, and I have tried to duplicate
it on a few occasions, even though boning a duck, like filleting a fish,
tends to waste some meat. Add the fact that I have been frying squirrel,
rabbit, quail and other species of wild game for many years and it is easy
to understand what would motivate me to try the same with a venison roast,
steak or even chops.
In any event, a week or so ago I pushed my venison-roast tendencies
aside, hauled out my favorite fish filet knife, and proceeded to slice
strips of venison off of a large shank roast.
I salted and peppered the strips liberally, dredged them in flour (just
like frying chicken, rabbit, squirrel, or any other raw meat), and browned
them on both sides--just like frying chicken. When the strips of venison
were browned (some of them tended to curl a bit), I sliced in some onion
and crumbled in a handful of dried hen-of-the-woods mushroom before adding
an ounce of water and covering the skillet over low heat. As the venison
simmered the water and flour combined to produce a rich, brown gravy and
I had turned a venison roast into tender chicken-fried venison.
Served with veggies and a green salad, it was as tender and tasty as
any venison I had ever eaten.
Later, strictly as an experiment, I simply sauted strips of the venison
as Dan had sauted the strips of bluebill. It was equally as tasty--though
not quite so tender--as the chicken-fried venison.
The kicker for my thinking on alternative methods of preparing venison
for the table came last Saturday at the annual Wild Game Cookout at the
One of the first of many interesting methods of preparing wild game
and fish for the table I saw was members of the Indiana Deer Hunters Association
deep frying dredged strips of venison. It was as good and tender as any
venison I have ever cooked.
Conclusion: I will continue to roast large cuts of venison, just as
I have done for many years. But I will also prepare it for the table in
my old iron skillet just as I fry chicken or any other wild game.