How to Tenderize Venison
How to Tenderize Venison – Overview
Toughness in venison (or any meat for that matter) is determined by a number of things, the length of the muscle, the age of the animal, nutrition, time of the rut, etc. If you are presented with a tough piece of meat or venison, there are ways to make it more palatable.
Tenderizing actually requires that you break up or soften the muscle fibers, which you can do either physically or chemically.
To physically tenderize venison meat you can:
- Flatten steaks with a tenderizing mallet or other blunt object. This works best when you place the venison meat between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic. We recommend the Jaccard Supertendermatic 48-Blade Tenderizer which has given us EXCELLENT results!
- Score the meat across the fibers with a very sharp knife, or poke holes in it using a tenderizing tool – this Norpro Professional Meat Tenderizer works wonders. For such a small tool, its amazing how tender it can make venison meat…
- Cut cooked meat thinly across the grain, as in flank steak, using a good butcher knife.
- Hopelessly tough meat can always be ground into hamburger – check out our Venison Grinder guide for more information.
To chemically tenderize venison meat you can:
- Use a powdered tenderizer made from the enzyme papain (see papain powders here). Some cooks say these powders make the outside mushy and leave the inside tough. To avoid this, fork the meat all over before sprinkling the powder. Then add a little liquid to allow the powder to be drawn into the center of the meat cut. Water will do the trick but fruit juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, vinegar or wine will add flavor.
- In Chinese restaurants they use baking powder to tenderize thinly-sliced meat. Slice the meat across the grain, then massage in the powder. Let sit about 20 minutes and rinse well before cooking. Use one teaspoon of powder for each pound of meat.
- Steaks to be grilled can be tenderized by rubbing them with salt and letting them rest 20-60 minutes. Rinse them well and pat dry before grilling. The salt relaxes the muscle fiber and traps fat in so you get a juicier steak. Crushed garlic added with the salt makes for a more flavorful steak.
- Soaking cuts of meat in salty brine overnight may tenderize a bit, but it can be very useful for removing the “gamey” taste of venison. This method is good for meats that will be roasted or grilled.
- Marinate the meat in an acid-based marinade (we recommend these marinades). Some flavorful acids are wines, vinegar, pineapple juice, lemon juice , lime juice and orange juice. Round out your marinade with oil or fat and flavorings like garlic, onions and herbs. The acid serves to unwind the long proteins in the meat. Refrigerate the meat covered with marinade several hours or overnight, with longer marinating times for tougher cuts of meat. You can use a chef’s syringe to inject marinade into thicker cuts.
- For stubbornly tough cuts of venison meat, the best way to tenderize them is to stew or braise for several hours. Check out our cooking tips for more information on how to cook all types of venison meat!
Venison Tenderizing References:
How to Tenderize Venison – Conclusion
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