January 5, 2009

Dead Meat

Ok, I’ve posted before on our deer and elk hunts. There is no better way to eat meat, if you are so inclined. I far prefer elk meat over the finest beef. There is something very basic, satisfying and honest about eating the meat you’ve procured yourself. So, if you’re offended by hunting (which means you’re a hypocrite if you are a meat eater or a vegetarian…either way, we can’t be close friends…well, I can appreciate and be friends with vegetarians, but you’re probably pale and anemic, and need a nice elk roast!) you may want to pass on this post. I guess I feel a bit cranky about comments I get about hunting. Usually from people who have no problem bellying up to a $37 steak cut from a genetically altered animal shot full of hormones and kept on an extremely uncomfortable and unnatural plot of feces soaked ground on an industrialized feedlot, thousands of miles from its habitat and from your plate.

I guess that clears up my feelings on the subject in case there was any doubt.

The Spousal Unit archery shot a quite large mule deer last week. He butchered it himself, and has just completed the last of parceling cuts. We now have a freezer full of meat, which if calculated out into grocery dollars, is worth several hundreds of dollars. All organic and natural protein. Meat that was gotten with some effort, respect, and gratitude. As I said, I prefer elk, but venison is the next best thing. One of my favorite ways to eat it is prepared as air dried jerky. On my kitchen table.

We sliced up a “skirt” cut (any cut would do – but best to keep it lean) into thin strips and seasoned as desired. In the past we’ve brushed with Tabasco and lime, marinated with a little teriyaki, and done a bunch of experimentation – but simple salt and pepper is pretty terrific. We lay out the strips on newspaper to absorb the moisture and as the jerky dries, even hit it with a hair dryer occasionally to keep it moisture free. It takes about 4-5 days (but this is Arizona, very dry air...longer in higher humidity) to get a very satisfying piece of jerky dried at room temperature. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, and no one definitive “recipe”. I love the whole idea of it. No complicated process, ingredients, or utensils…just a sharp knife, some space, and time. It’s ancient, it’s nutritious, and it’s simple and honest. It's a nice change from the complications that we invent involving food.

Sometimes it's best to keep it close to home and the ground, out of the store, and without a recipe or technique.


Heather said...

I love jerky. It's high in sodium, true, but it's so low in fat and calories! I can't imagine living anywhere dry enough to do that in the house.

Peter M said...

Amen to meat, sista! I suppose making elk into jerky is one option...how about sausage?

I too am currently curing some meat...stay tuned.

Tartelette said...

Love meat but especially the more gamy, in their "natural" habitat state and elk, venison are on my list of favorites! Gosh....if I were your neighbor I'd be knocking on your door right now!

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Heather, my love, I'll send you some jerky if I can "jerk" it away from Kurt!

Peter, hey...let me send you some venison! Ask Heather about that! Email me your shipping address, dude!

Tartelette, aw, you don't have to knock...just come right on in. I love the meats!

Bellini Valli said...

I have never tried elk but have had my fair share of bear, moose, venison and game birds.

Mary said...

I've never had elk but I've had venison aplenty. It's good the spousal unit enjoys jerky. I've never seen that much of it in one place my entire life.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Catherine, I love you, love you, love you!

This post couldn't be more timely. I just started archery and got myself a compound bow last week and I am pretty good shot apparently (I have pics on facebook) and eventually, this is where I want to be.

I agree with absolutely everything you say here. I am a big fan of elk, but my favorite is reindeer, which I used to get when I lived in Norway. So good. Venison can't be passed up either!

But the other day Roberto was wondering how you dry meat that you have hunted...and here you go. Thanks for that. :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

disclaimer: Oh but I should amend my comment to say that I don't mind vegetarians at all. In fact I was one for 10 years, but after being involved in the raising of meat (on the Navajo Reservation), I got a lot of respect for humanely raised meat,and felt better eating it (than not) and started thinking about hunting. But, I figure that if you don't eat meat at all, then you can not agree with hunting and that is fine by me ;)

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Val, you really must try it sometime! It's like the finest beef...no, better!

Mary, I know...it's like a slaughter house around here!

Jenn...You are my hero! I can barely pull back on a 40 lb compound bow! Good for you! I have no issue with veggie people...I just think they're missing some good protein! I was one too, but just couldn't hack it.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Thanks Catherine! :) My bow is a 40-50 #-er. I get tired after about 50-60 arrows (but I have only been shooting less than a week). Can't wait to go to the range tomorrow!

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