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Eat Local! Venison

October 1, 2016

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With the change of the seasons and vibrant fall colors taking place along the North Idaho landscape comes one of autumn’s more popular outdoor sports – hunting. Venison traditionally refers to deer, but could include the meat of other antlered animals such as elk and moose. Locals hunt for various game throughout the fall, but elk and deer season last from September through December depending on the species, zone, and weapon being used.

Wild game meat is heart healthy since it’s much leaner than animals fed grain-based diets raised on factory farms. Furthermore, wild game is free of growth hormones, antibiotics, and additives resulting in a purely unadulterated form of meat. Research indicates that wild game is not only leaner, but higher in many nutrients including zinc, iron, and B vitamins, which form part of the enzyme systems needed for proper metabolism to occur. Venison is lower in total fat, saturated fat, and calories than beef of the same portion size. Animals that forage for food consume more alpha-linolenic acid (a form of the heart healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid) from plants, and thus wild game has a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than corn-fed meat.

Fresh venison will store in the freezer for up to 8 months. It may be stored longer, although taste may become compromised. When thawing meat, do not set out on the counter at room temperature but rather thaw in the microwave or leave in the fridge for several hours. When cooking venison, ensure that ground meats are cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and roasts and steaks are cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any remaining bacteria. Once cooked, do not keep meat in the fridge for more than 3 days. Be sure to store all meats on the lowest shelf of the fridge to prevent contaminated juices from dripping onto other foods.

If you have some extra venison on hand, try this simple, hearty soup recipe to warm you up on a crisp autumn evening:

 

Venison Barley Vegetable Soup

Recipe courtesy of Food & Nutrition Magazine, January 2014. Developed by Nikki Bennett, RD, LD
Serves 12

Inland NW Food Network

Ingredients
2 lbs. venison, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cooking oil
6 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
3 teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 quart jars of home-canned crushed tomatoes (or use 16 oz. canned diced tomatoes, but you may need to add more beef bouillon)
1 cup barley

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan, brown meat in hot oil.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Discard bay leaves and serve!
  • Tip: To reduce “gamey” taste, wash venison thoroughly and marinate. Simple marinades I’ve used include beer, cola or grape jelly.

Article by Natalie Colla, RDN, LDN. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Idaho and Registered Dietitian at Panhandle Health District. She takes a “whole person” approach to health and believes in utilizing a combination of behavioral counseling, stress reduction, exercise, functional foods, and individualized diet therapy to achieve total wellness for a variety of chronic diseases.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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