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.