As a nod to St. Patricks Day and to my brother James for being an excellent source of venison, I prepared the equivalent of flank steak from a one-year old whitetail deer who had fattened himself quite nicely on acorn mast last year. James is a careful butcher and the meat was prettier than anything you could ever get in a grocery store and even rivaled those cuts that we used to get from our butcher. We had no worries about free-range, grass-fed or organic labels as this guy grew up near James’ house! My only challenge is that Laura doesn’t care for venison! Her only real experience with the meat are those deer that her co-workers drag in proudly in the back of their trucks for everyone to gather around and admire as they bake in the early fall temparatures, sending out the unpleasent aroma of blood and death. I have to agree with her – a gut-shot deer draped over the tailgate of a truck is not an appetizing sight for anyone – even the hunters that pull the trigger. I think that is why most venison harvested locally ends up as jerky or stew meat at best.
James is a different kind of hunter. While he won’t pass on a trophy buck by any means, his most common targets are those that he has carefully staked out during the off season, observed feeding and targeted for harvest. He takes great pride in his butchering abilities and carefully harvests the majority of the deer, wrapping, freezing, drying and canning the meat.
St. Patricks Day has traditionally meant little to me from a cultural standpoint. Our heritage is mostly Scottish and Native American, and the area I grew up in simply didn’t observe the day. But this year I felt the need to at least acknowledge that the holiday exists. I prepared the venison corned beef style by soaking it in a brine of salt, sugar and water for a few days. (Recipe courtesy of http://georgiapellegrini.com/2011/03/06/recipes/corned-venison/.) On Sunday, I let it sit until room temperature, slow cooked it for a couple of hours and finished it off over high heat on my charcoal grill. Delicious. We paired it with Irish Soda bread and roasted carrots. Laura destroyed it and yes, the leftovers made most excellent sandwiches. I do like St. Patricks day. I do. But I will not drink green beer. No thank you. Pass me a Guiness, please.