Venison refers to the cuts of meat you get from deer. While not as popular as meats like chicken, beef, and pork, venison has been a long-standing staple in some diets for centuries. While traditionally a leaner cut of meat, certain cuts of venison can provide more fat and give your recipes a tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat. Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye's venison stew with Guinness and pickled walnuts utilizes the shank and neck cuts of venison for a tender, rich stew. "These cuts are both sinewy and packed with connective tissues, resulting in wonderfully tender meat in a richly flavored, gamey sauce when stewed for a few hours," Rye says.
The connective tissues in the venison will cook down into gelatin when cooked low and slow, causing the meat to have that fall-apart texture. You need cuts of meat high in connective tissues when you want to make dishes like a stew because they can hold up to being cooked for a long time and not dry out or become tough. Venison meat works in a stew because it will mellow out some of that earthy, gamey taste. If you've never tried venison before, a slow-cooked stew can be a great introduction to it.
Working With The Flavor Of Venison In Your Cooking
Venison has a reputation for having a very polarizing flavor. Venison's earthy flavor comes from the diet of the deer. When eating venison you may get some nutty, bitter flavor notes courtesy of the acorns, sage, and other greens the deer may have eaten while alive. The complex flavor of venison isn't for everyone but if you learn to work with it you can develop some truly unique flavors you've never experienced before.
In her dish, Jennine Rye starts the cooking process of her meat by browning it. This results in an effect known as the Maillard reaction. This reaction refers to the seared crust meats get when you brown them and the savory, sweet flavor that develops from these browned parts. The Maillard reaction is an important step in developing complex flavors in your stews. This also helps to tame the flavor of the venison. To balance this gamey flavor of the meat, Rye includes pickled walnuts in her dish. The briney, sour notes of the pickled walnuts help cut through some of that richness from the meat and create a more balanced dish overall.
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