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What’s Your Favorite Venison Cut (Other Than Backstrap or Tenderloin)?

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November 01, 2010

What’s Your Favorite Venison Cut (Other Than Backstrap or Tenderloin)?

By David Draper

When I’m butchering a deer, the tenderloins are the first piece of meat to come out, sometimes getting pulled in the field and cooked right there, or soon after. Once we’re back at the ranch, the loins, or backstraps, are next. After filleting them off the bone, I cut each strap in 5- to 6-inch-long steaks. These get cooked over indirect heat on the Weber with a little hickory or apple smoke added. Sliced thinly, they’re just about the best thing you ever ate.

While these two pieces of meat get all the glory, there are a lot of other great cuts on a deer that get overshadowed by the backstraps and tenderloin. In fact, some the best deer I’ve ever eaten were grilled venison ribs covered in a sweet-hot sticky sauce down in Texas. I know a lot of people that don’t even bother messing with the deer ribs other than stripping the meat off them to go into the grinder. Heck, I admit to doing that myself more often than leaving them on the bone.

I also admit there’s a lot of meat that goes into the grinder when I’m butchering just because I’m not sure what to do with it. Like all that thin belly meat. Or what I can get off the neck. But I’m always thinking there’s got to be a way to eat it other than as ground venison. So help me out here: What are you favorite alternative cuts—something other than backstraps or tenderloins—and how do you cook it?

—David Draper

 

Comments (26)

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from dmitch wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Nothing better than country fried deer steak!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Sausage!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Smoked Hams ain't so bad either

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

I seperate the muscles off the hind quarter and the largest muscle is usually cut into steaks, but I always take one and cut it in half and after trimming all the silverskin and tallow off it I get my turkey injector out and inject it all over with "La-Choy teriyaki sauce" then I put it and the rest of the sauce in a zip-loc bag for a couple days in the fridge. The night before I cook it I soak a gallon bag full of hickory chips in water. Then I get a good batch of charcoal going, season my meat with my favorite spice (Mrs. Dash's hot and spicey) and place the meat about 18 inches above the charcoal in my smoker and dump half the chip on the charcoal, I turn the meat about every half hour and when the chips flame up I put the other half on and let the go until they flame up and the charcoal eventually goes out! Take the meat out and after it cools off put it into a sealed container and then the next day (don't slice it all at once!) you'll have the best tasting lunchmeat you've ever had!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

I sometimes take a big bone-in roast out of one of the rear quarters. this is an alternative to separating and deboning out the top and bottom round cuts. brown it and roast it with vegetables and stock.

speaking of stock, deer bones and miscellaneous scraps (cleaned of fat, as usual!) can be used to make a decent stock.

yrs-
Evan!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

The heart. Stewed, fried with butter, or pickled.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

The one piece of meat that is just as good if not better than the tenderloins that is often overlooked or not even taken out of the carcass is the two muscle located beneath the back straps on the inside of the ribcage. We call it the "catfish" I don't know where that name came from other than the man who taught me how to butcher a deer. It is very tender and I like them dusted with salt pepper and flour browned in butter then slow cooked allday with veggies and mushrooms. It can't be beat!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tpbesone wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Dcast, I'm pretty sure those two muscles you are referring to are the tenderloins. The backstraps are the larger strips on the outside of the ribs and along either side of the spine and the tenderloins are located under those backstraps in the rear of the animal.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

I love a big-old roast off the hind quarter. "Age" it in the fridge for 2-3 days uncovered with some balsamic vinegar drizzled over it, then pan or grill seared to "rare", let sit for 5 minutes, and sliced thin. Goes with everything from mashed taters to bread and mayo.

Walt, I'm gonna' try injecting some roast, thanks for the recipe.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woodstock wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

When I’m butchering, I invariably I end up with end pieces that are too small to qualify as a “steak”, yet they are in fact high quality meat. The pieces usually from the top round, the shoulder, or near the pelvis. These get carefully trimmed, and packaged as “Chunks”. Chunks get used in shish kebob, fajita, stir fry, stew, or curry dishes.

They are a favorite of mine because I’ll often thaw out a package, then decide what to have for dinner, instead of the other way around.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Tp, I was under the impression that the back strap is the tenderloin? Everyone I know refer to the backstraps as tenderloins or vice versa, then again they are different if you know what I mean!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Dcast, the tenderloins are indeed up inside the cavity. I peel them out as soon as the deer is hanging and eat'em fresh, nothing better.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from iowahunter18 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

You gotta love deer bacon! Just take some of the odd thin pieces that you end up with, like the thin belly meat, and put it on a fryin' pan.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Intestines make better sausage casing than pig. I don't know how all of you make sausage but I buy thin casing down at the Vietnamese store. The deer intestines are much thicker and have fat on them, they have taste.

Usually mix 1/6 ground pork in with the deer, thin chopped lemon grass, garlic, salt, MSG, 1/6 pre cooked sticky rice.

Ribs get marinated and baked for my wife's friends to celebrate the killing of the deer. They take too much room in the freezer. Likewise a couple of leg bones go to make pho, the soup.

Last week we thin sliced heart, lungs, liver, and marinated for a couple days, then jerked with one of those screen things out in the sun, then deep fried and froze. The parts of the heart and lungs where all the arteries come in we just boiled with spices, cut thin, and the kids eat them like candy.

Despite all the methods of using meat, my favorite is still the tenderloin cut across the grain, undercooked in a frying pan with butter.

Hey Xue, sir fan ma?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I don't grind my little peices of meat into burger or summer sausage because I'm not real fond of the silverskin that most processors grind up with it, instead any little peice of meat that won't make a small steak or jerky peice I cut into little cubes and put it in a seperate bag labeled "Stew Meat". These are great for venison tacos, stroganov, omlets, chili, basicly any dish that requires small chunks of meat. One of our favorite is called a "hay stack". You'll need 3 cans of mushroom soup, a can of french style string beans, a can of sliced carrots, a can of corn, and a bag of stew meat and a nice sirloin steak cut into small chunks and about 4 good sized potatos. Fry the meats in seperate pans with butter, chopped onions and minced garlic. In a crock pot put 1 can of mushroom soup in first, followed by the french style green beans,followed by the venison and drippings. This is usually when I cook up the potatos that have been cut into little cubes right in the venison pan with a little olive oil and some mesquite seasoning. Now put another can of mushroom soup on top of that followed by the corn and carrots and then the sirloin meat. On top of that goes the potatos then the last can of mushroom soup. Turn the crock pot on high for about a hour, stir before serving and enjoy what I'm sure will be one of your new favorites!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I'm with Douglas, give me the heart and liver!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunter480 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Amazing that people don`t know tenderloins from backstraps. The tenderloins are indeed inside the body cavity, and the backstraps are the two wide, long pieces cut off the rear, outside of the deer. Pretty simple.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jesse Upchurch wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Neck Meat makes great jerky

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I know it's not a cut of meat, but I do far more with ground venison than any other---soups, stews, chili, burgers, meat loaf, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, etc. I don't think I've bought ground beef in thirty years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The inside and outside loins are the first to come off and baged when I process all my dear .Then front quarters,neck,and hind quarters.I used too grind alot with a grinder but havent in recent years and have been deboneing all my dear in recent years including the neck.In the past have froze the quarters then ran them on a meat saw for large steaks even cut chops and separated the rest for stew and burger.Im with Walt Smith as far as the(stew meat)love it and have to say that is our most used next to the loins.I just put together a soup that is easy cheap and great.I brown the venison in light olive oil salt+pepper.Then in the slow cooker goes a $1 box of onion soup mix store brand,a $1 bag of soup vegtables,a $1 can of diced tomatoes24oz. w/juice in can compliments of Dollar Tree why there because most other stores are about $4,6 cups of water,and one or two large onions diced and sauted.The rest you can figure out .Venison chile 2LBS cubed venison browned 1can12oz. black beans 1 can12oz.red 1 can 12ozwhite 2 large onions cut in half sliced then cut in half again 2 green peppers 1 red cut the same way 2 cans diced tomatoes 1 can spegetti sauce 2tbs chili power 1 large jar hot sala why because it already has the green chilies jalapenoes etc the into the slow cooker.Chunky not too many beans just the way we like it
After done with both the soup and chili their cooled and baged into freezer bags exit air and stacked in freezer.Then taken out when ever.Our favorite time is when out on the ice.Soup or chili while watching the lakers and salmon pulling line on tipups with browned venison with onions and peppers served hot on a hot dog roll.A bowl of soup or chili and the hot venison w/peppers+onion on a roll while pulling in fish!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Grammer wasnt my best subject dear ment deer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hankster64 wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

The small pieces and chunks from my deer are saved for soup,stew,stir fry, and my favorite is fajitas. To make fajites stir fry the meat in pan with oil,add taco seasoning and small amount of water, 2 tablespoons. Remove from pan and set aside. Stir fry yellow,red,and green peppers, with onion all sliced slightly large until the are still a bit crunchy. Add the meat to the peppers and heat till sizzling. Searve on tortillas with sour cream. Add fresh tomatos if you like um. Yummy!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nolan wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Sausage or bacon!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shawn Smith wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I am kind of partial to the roast. I put it in the crock pot to slow cook all day. I then shred it and add my favorite barbecue sauce. Nothing beats a pulled venison sandwich.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from melcher06 wrote 45 weeks 19 min ago

Any of the lesser appreciated steaks, ( sirloin, round) sliced thin. Used to make Uncle Ted's venison stroganoff. I love this stuff so much even tenderloins and back straps have been used. My kids tear it up!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from melcher06 wrote 45 weeks 19 min ago

Any of the lesser appreciated steaks, ( sirloin, round) sliced thin. Used to make Uncle Ted's venison stroganoff. I love this stuff so much even tenderloins and back straps have been used. My kids tear it up!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from tpbesone wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Dcast, I'm pretty sure those two muscles you are referring to are the tenderloins. The backstraps are the larger strips on the outside of the ribs and along either side of the spine and the tenderloins are located under those backstraps in the rear of the animal.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

I seperate the muscles off the hind quarter and the largest muscle is usually cut into steaks, but I always take one and cut it in half and after trimming all the silverskin and tallow off it I get my turkey injector out and inject it all over with "La-Choy teriyaki sauce" then I put it and the rest of the sauce in a zip-loc bag for a couple days in the fridge. The night before I cook it I soak a gallon bag full of hickory chips in water. Then I get a good batch of charcoal going, season my meat with my favorite spice (Mrs. Dash's hot and spicey) and place the meat about 18 inches above the charcoal in my smoker and dump half the chip on the charcoal, I turn the meat about every half hour and when the chips flame up I put the other half on and let the go until they flame up and the charcoal eventually goes out! Take the meat out and after it cools off put it into a sealed container and then the next day (don't slice it all at once!) you'll have the best tasting lunchmeat you've ever had!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

I sometimes take a big bone-in roast out of one of the rear quarters. this is an alternative to separating and deboning out the top and bottom round cuts. brown it and roast it with vegetables and stock.

speaking of stock, deer bones and miscellaneous scraps (cleaned of fat, as usual!) can be used to make a decent stock.

yrs-
Evan!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

The one piece of meat that is just as good if not better than the tenderloins that is often overlooked or not even taken out of the carcass is the two muscle located beneath the back straps on the inside of the ribcage. We call it the "catfish" I don't know where that name came from other than the man who taught me how to butcher a deer. It is very tender and I like them dusted with salt pepper and flour browned in butter then slow cooked allday with veggies and mushrooms. It can't be beat!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I don't grind my little peices of meat into burger or summer sausage because I'm not real fond of the silverskin that most processors grind up with it, instead any little peice of meat that won't make a small steak or jerky peice I cut into little cubes and put it in a seperate bag labeled "Stew Meat". These are great for venison tacos, stroganov, omlets, chili, basicly any dish that requires small chunks of meat. One of our favorite is called a "hay stack". You'll need 3 cans of mushroom soup, a can of french style string beans, a can of sliced carrots, a can of corn, and a bag of stew meat and a nice sirloin steak cut into small chunks and about 4 good sized potatos. Fry the meats in seperate pans with butter, chopped onions and minced garlic. In a crock pot put 1 can of mushroom soup in first, followed by the french style green beans,followed by the venison and drippings. This is usually when I cook up the potatos that have been cut into little cubes right in the venison pan with a little olive oil and some mesquite seasoning. Now put another can of mushroom soup on top of that followed by the corn and carrots and then the sirloin meat. On top of that goes the potatos then the last can of mushroom soup. Turn the crock pot on high for about a hour, stir before serving and enjoy what I'm sure will be one of your new favorites!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dmitch wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Nothing better than country fried deer steak!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Sausage!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Smoked Hams ain't so bad either

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

The heart. Stewed, fried with butter, or pickled.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

I love a big-old roast off the hind quarter. "Age" it in the fridge for 2-3 days uncovered with some balsamic vinegar drizzled over it, then pan or grill seared to "rare", let sit for 5 minutes, and sliced thin. Goes with everything from mashed taters to bread and mayo.

Walt, I'm gonna' try injecting some roast, thanks for the recipe.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunter480 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Amazing that people don`t know tenderloins from backstraps. The tenderloins are indeed inside the body cavity, and the backstraps are the two wide, long pieces cut off the rear, outside of the deer. Pretty simple.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woodstock wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

When I’m butchering, I invariably I end up with end pieces that are too small to qualify as a “steak”, yet they are in fact high quality meat. The pieces usually from the top round, the shoulder, or near the pelvis. These get carefully trimmed, and packaged as “Chunks”. Chunks get used in shish kebob, fajita, stir fry, stew, or curry dishes.

They are a favorite of mine because I’ll often thaw out a package, then decide what to have for dinner, instead of the other way around.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Dcast, the tenderloins are indeed up inside the cavity. I peel them out as soon as the deer is hanging and eat'em fresh, nothing better.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from iowahunter18 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

You gotta love deer bacon! Just take some of the odd thin pieces that you end up with, like the thin belly meat, and put it on a fryin' pan.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Intestines make better sausage casing than pig. I don't know how all of you make sausage but I buy thin casing down at the Vietnamese store. The deer intestines are much thicker and have fat on them, they have taste.

Usually mix 1/6 ground pork in with the deer, thin chopped lemon grass, garlic, salt, MSG, 1/6 pre cooked sticky rice.

Ribs get marinated and baked for my wife's friends to celebrate the killing of the deer. They take too much room in the freezer. Likewise a couple of leg bones go to make pho, the soup.

Last week we thin sliced heart, lungs, liver, and marinated for a couple days, then jerked with one of those screen things out in the sun, then deep fried and froze. The parts of the heart and lungs where all the arteries come in we just boiled with spices, cut thin, and the kids eat them like candy.

Despite all the methods of using meat, my favorite is still the tenderloin cut across the grain, undercooked in a frying pan with butter.

Hey Xue, sir fan ma?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I'm with Douglas, give me the heart and liver!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jesse Upchurch wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Neck Meat makes great jerky

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

I know it's not a cut of meat, but I do far more with ground venison than any other---soups, stews, chili, burgers, meat loaf, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, etc. I don't think I've bought ground beef in thirty years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The inside and outside loins are the first to come off and baged when I process all my dear .Then front quarters,neck,and hind quarters.I used too grind alot with a grinder but havent in recent years and have been deboneing all my dear in recent years including the neck.In the past have froze the quarters then ran them on a meat saw for large steaks even cut chops and separated the rest for stew and burger.Im with Walt Smith as far as the(stew meat)love it and have to say that is our most used next to the loins.I just put together a soup that is easy cheap and great.I brown the venison in light olive oil salt+pepper.Then in the slow cooker goes a $1 box of onion soup mix store brand,a $1 bag of soup vegtables,a $1 can of diced tomatoes24oz. w/juice in can compliments of Dollar Tree why there because most other stores are about $4,6 cups of water,and one or two large onions diced and sauted.The rest you can figure out .Venison chile 2LBS cubed venison browned 1can12oz. black beans 1 can12oz.red 1 can 12ozwhite 2 large onions cut in half sliced then cut in half again 2 green peppers 1 red cut the same way 2 cans diced tomatoes 1 can spegetti sauce 2tbs chili power 1 large jar hot sala why because it already has the green chilies jalapenoes etc the into the slow cooker.Chunky not too many beans just the way we like it
After done with both the soup and chili their cooled and baged into freezer bags exit air and stacked in freezer.Then taken out when ever.Our favorite time is when out on the ice.Soup or chili while watching the lakers and salmon pulling line on tipups with browned venison with onions and peppers served hot on a hot dog roll.A bowl of soup or chili and the hot venison w/peppers+onion on a roll while pulling in fish!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Grammer wasnt my best subject dear ment deer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hankster64 wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

The small pieces and chunks from my deer are saved for soup,stew,stir fry, and my favorite is fajitas. To make fajites stir fry the meat in pan with oil,add taco seasoning and small amount of water, 2 tablespoons. Remove from pan and set aside. Stir fry yellow,red,and green peppers, with onion all sliced slightly large until the are still a bit crunchy. Add the meat to the peppers and heat till sizzling. Searve on tortillas with sour cream. Add fresh tomatos if you like um. Yummy!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nolan wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Sausage or bacon!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shawn Smith wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I am kind of partial to the roast. I put it in the crock pot to slow cook all day. I then shred it and add my favorite barbecue sauce. Nothing beats a pulled venison sandwich.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from melcher06 wrote 45 weeks 19 min ago

Any of the lesser appreciated steaks, ( sirloin, round) sliced thin. Used to make Uncle Ted's venison stroganoff. I love this stuff so much even tenderloins and back straps have been used. My kids tear it up!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from melcher06 wrote 45 weeks 19 min ago

Any of the lesser appreciated steaks, ( sirloin, round) sliced thin. Used to make Uncle Ted's venison stroganoff. I love this stuff so much even tenderloins and back straps have been used. My kids tear it up!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Tp, I was under the impression that the back strap is the tenderloin? Everyone I know refer to the backstraps as tenderloins or vice versa, then again they are different if you know what I mean!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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