Now let me make something perfectly clear: I like a good cut of beef
as much as the next guy. But I like venison better. In addition to
the fantastic flavor, there are certain superior health benefits
that deserve mentioning because of venison's lean character. With
that said, consider this... A 3-ounce cut of venison contains 3
grams of total fat and 1 gram of saturated fat. Comparatively, a
"lean" cut of beef comes in at 15 grams of total fat and 6 grams of
saturated fat! That's a huge difference and one that makes it not
surprising that more and more fine restaurants are offering their
customers venison on the menu as a healthier alternative.
that's not all. Venison also reigns superior in protein and
vitamins. The same two cuts of meat yield 26 grams of protein for
venison compared with 23 grams for beef. In venison vs. beef, the
nutrient numbers are 3.8 milligrams vs. 2.3 mg for iron and 0.6 mg
vs. 0.3 mg for vitamin B6 -- both in favor of venison. The list of
health advantages goes on, but let's get on to better things -- like
flavor and ownership.
By ownership, I mean the sense of accomplishment that comes with
sitting down for a meal of something you've harvested or caught.
Imagine putting on a walleye fish fry for your family and a bunch of
friends. They rave about the fish and appreciate so much the fact
that you went out and actually gathered the protein. That's a great
feeling. It makes a meal that much more special.
The same is true with venison. With every delicious bite,
everyone will appreciate you as the provider. More than that, when
you (the hunter) sit down for dinner, every bite will spur memories
of the hunt itself. What was the weather that day? How did the deer
come into the stand site? What kind of shot did you take? Every
detail of the hunt comes back to you as you enjoy your meal. It is
the celebration of the harvest.
Now, let's talk flavor. I don't know how many people I've heard
say "it's so gamey" when they talk about venison. And you know what?
They're right. Compared with beef, there is a game taste, which is
great as far as I'm concerned. It's a deer, after all. But here's
the thing: The reason people claim a "gamey" taste is because they
haven't prepared venison as venison needs to be prepared. They cook
it like beef, which is a different animal.
[to top of second column]
In order to enjoy the flavor that's there in every steak, people
must prepare venison the way it's meant to be cooked. My wife, Kris,
is a magician in the kitchen, and many of her venison recipes are
available at www.winkelman.com.
In the meantime, before you go there and try some of those
dishes, here's what I want you to do. Cut some steaks from your next
venison tenderloin. Rub them up with any old steak rub you can buy
from the grocery store. Let them sit for an hour or so to soak up
Next, heat up your grill to the max. Then take those seasoned
steaks and throw them on the fire and cook them fast. By fast, I
mean sear them for a few minutes per side and then dig in with some
sautéed mushrooms and a side of green vegetables. That venison
should be medium-rare to rare when it's done. If you have an
aversion to medium-rare meat -- well, then you just have to be brave
and have a single bite. It'll change your thinking. If you cook it
to medium or well-done, then prepare for tougher gaminess.
Venison, when pink in the middle but perfectly safe to eat, is
hands-down the most amazingly tender and flavorful red meat on
planet Earth. If you put it on a plate at the fanciest restaurant in
New York City, properly prepared, then that restaurant would get
five stars in the next edition of the New York Times restaurant
I wish you a safe and fruitful hunting season, and good eating
along the way.
[By BABE WINKELMAN]
Babe Winkelman hosts "Good Fishing" and
"Outdoor Secrets," the most-watched fishing and hunting programs on
television. Tune in on NBC Sports Network, Destination America,
Velocity, Time Warner Sports Texas & New York, and many local
broadcast channels. Visit
Winkelman.com for airtimes and more information.