It is a joy to be successful on a hunt, but the true work begins after the animal is harvested. Hunters have to properly care for their harvests in order to make a mouthwatering meal out of the meat. Before LG was old enough to hunt, she knew how to properly field dress an animal. Her favorite thing to do is prepare the meat and have it for a meal.
Often times, I hear that elk tastes “gamey.” The taste of the meat relies significantly on the way the animal is handled while in the field. A hide that is left on an animal will hold in heat, causing bacteria to form. It is imperative that the hunter removes the hide right away, in order to cool down the meat. If the hide is left on the carcass, it will alter the flavor of the meat.
After the animal is skinned and quartered, place each quarter in a separate game bag. Then, the tenderloins and backstraps can be removed from the rib cage and placed in separate bags. Game bags are important for keeping meat clean, as well as keeping flies from leaving larvae on the meat.
Once a hunter has packed out the bounty, it should hang for a couple of days in a cooler. This will allow the meat to cure. If you do not allow the meat to cure, it will be laden with an iron-like taste, that some people refer to as “gamey.”
After the animal has been harvested, dressed and packaged, it is ready to cook. LG’s 2 favorite ways to enjoy her “spoils” are in the form of elk steak and deer jerky. The best elk steak comes from the backstrap and tenderloin areas. Deer jerky can be made from various parts of the animal, including the shoulders.
Elk steak can be prepared in the same ways as any beef steak that is purchased from the market. The trick is not to overcook the meat. Wild game tends to have less fat in it, and can be easily overcooked, thus drying it out and causing it to be tough like jerky.
Jerky, you say? LG’s ears always perk up when we mention deer jerky. It is her favorite snack. She takes it on bus rides to sporting events and stuffs it in her school lunch. LG’s jerky recipe is simple and quick. She thaws a couple packages of deer meat, cuts it up and dries it.
It took some convincing, but I talked her into sharing her “secret” deer-jerky recipe with all of you. I hope you will enjoy it as much as she does.
LG’s deer jerky recipe
Jerky can be made with any cut of meat that can be made into strips. LG’s recipe was made with deer meat. Feel free to add, subtract or modify her recipe and make it your own.
What you need
- Large plastic bowl that has a tight-sealing lid
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Sharp knife
- Dehydrator or oven
- 6 pounds of fresh game meat (beef is OK, too)
- 1 C. of brown sugar
- ½ C. of soy sauce
- ¼ C. of Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ C. of Jerk sauce
- ¼ C. of Liquid Smoke
- 2 tsp. of garlic powder
- 2 tsp. of sea salt
- 2 tsp. of fresh ground black pepper
How to make it
Cut meat into thin strips, approximately 1 inch wide. Remember to trim off excess fat. Place meat inside a large plastic bowl.
Crumble and sprinkle brown sugar over meat. Stir meat and brown sugar. Measure and pour the following ingredients over the meat: Soy sauce, Worcestershire, Jerk sauce and Liquid Smoke. Sprinkle garlic powder, sea salt and pepper over the entire mixture. Seal the container with the lid and shake the mixture to ensure the meat is completely coated by all of the ingredients. Place the sealed bowl in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, allowing it to marinate.
After at least 24 hours have passed, use a dehydrator or oven to dry the jerky. If you are drying the meat in the oven, set it to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the marinated meat on a rack or cookie sheet and place the meat in the oven for 7 hours. Note: drying meat too rapidly in the oven may cause it to become tough. If you are using a dehydrator, spread the marinated meat on the drying trays and run the dehydrator for approximately 4 hours. Test the jerky for desired texture.
When the jerky is dried to your liking, seal it in Ziploc bags or other air-tight containers. Keep refrigerated.