I am a city girl. So when my husband dragged his first deer carcass into our Dallas condo last year, I freaked. OK, it was processed, wrapped and labeled, but did he seriously expect me to cook with that meat? To better understand my complaint, you must first picture me in the kitchen. To do so, close your eyes and reflect on high school chemistry lab – the smell of burning sugar in a test tube, overflowing beakers, burn-scarred tables. It's all about good timing, and I don't have that.
Still, I consider myself a decent cook. I can prove it. How else could my husband have gained 20 pounds since our wedding day? I can't take all the credit. Chili's saved us once or twice when a Paula Deen recipe let me down.
Now, fast forward to a year, a move to Little Rock and two deer later. Not only have I fumbled my way through venison recipes, I've mastered – says my hubby – venison spaghetti. It's exactly like the Italian classic, but read on for a few of my tricks for disguising the somewhat gamey taste and the complete recipe ...
- Venison is a dry meat. Unlike ground beef, you really won't have anything to drain after browning, and you'll want to add a little vegetable oil or olive oil to start. I saute one cup of diced yellow onions in olive oil before adding the ground venison.
- During the browning stage, I like to add a tablespoon or two (I usually just eyeball it) of Worcestershire sauce. I like to think it kills any gaminess that might linger. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. But it sure makes me feel better. If you try this, remember that a little goes a long way. You want it to taste like spaghetti, not a T-bone.
- I'm from Texas, so maybe my penchant for spicy Tex-Mex comes into play here, but I always add a fistful of red pepper flakes to give the meat sauce a much-needed kick.
- After you've dined on your or your hubby's hunting spoils, save some doe – er, dough – by freezing your leftover spaghetti (mix leftover spaghetti sauce and pasta or keep separate). My mother-in-law taught me that little trick. This is a helpful hint for all you cooks out there, like me, who tend to overestimate portion sizes and want an arsenal of quick and easy meals.
1 12- to 16-ounce package spaghetti or angel hair pasta
3/4-1 pound ground venison (thawed)
1 jar or can of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion
Italian seasoning (to taste)
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Directions: By now you've likely learned how to make spaghetti, or at least boil water and make pasta, so I'll skip that part. For the meat sauce, saute the onion in oil until soft. Add ground venison (medium heat) and brown slowly, adding red pepper and italian seasoning to taste. Once brown, add your favorite sauce, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Wasn't that easy?
Question for you: Does anyone out there know how long frozen venison (not already cooked like I mentioned above) can be kept? I've have a few backstraps from that first deer, circa November 2008, in the back of my freezer … is it still good?