Whitetail Hunting photo

Most of us are six or seven months removed from the last day of deer season. Even those of us lucky enough to have tagged an elk last season might be facing a pretty skinny freezer. Definitely the tenderloins are gone, as are the backstraps. There might be some sirloin or round steaks left in there, but that’s it for steaks or chops worthy of the grill. Or maybe not. Here are three venison cuts that you might not have considered grilling, but will actually make for a great 4th of July feast.

Ribs: Most hunters, if they keep rib meat at all, just strip it from the bones and grind it, but venison ribs are edible on the bone if they are cooked right. The challenge is dealing with all that slick grease, but if you do them low and slow, they end up tender and delicious. Trying adapting this recipe from Michael Shea for your smoker or grill.

Shoulder Steak: Like the rib meat, shoulders usually end up in the grinder, or cut and tied as a rolled roast, but there are actually a couple of very flavorful steaks found here. Because these muscles do a lot of work while the deer is living, the steaks can be tough. Your options include tenderizing them with a meat mallet or Jaccard tenderizer, cutting the steaks into strips for kabobs, or grilling the steak whole and slicing it thin across the grain.

Eye of Round: One of my favorite cuts, this little muscle is attached to the bottom round, but seperates easily via blunt dissection. It looks a lot like the tenderloin, but in my opinion is better. It definitely has more flavor and has a bit more tooth than the tenderloin, which is too soft in my opinion. Grill the eye of round up whole and slice it into medallions. Tell your friends you’re serving them tenderloin and I bet even the hunters won’t know the difference.