Deer legs. What to do, what to do?

Discussion in 'Wild Game' started by backyardboss, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. Hi all,

    I posted this in another similar thread but figured I'd start another to see if it would generate a few answers or responses. If an Admin wants to merge the two that is fine, I'm just looking for a little visibility as I gotta do something with this stuff.

    so here's the story:

    I was given a couple legs last evening from a neighbor with a too full freezer and he's  leaving town for a week. Now what do I do with them?

    They came from a 6 pt'er and was around 155 I think he said, if that helps describe what I now have.

    They're skinned and "cleaned" a bit, obviously, but is there any specific further prep that needs to be done? Silver skin or trimming? that kind of thing? It's still bone in, do I need to bone it and tie it up?

    They are buried under a big bunch of ice so haven't spent a lot of time with them just yet.

    And beyond that, how about cooking them? I've read a hot cook for as little as an hour and a half. Then others, lthat say 225 for a good long smoke.

    Do I shoot for a rare/medium/well target or does this cut need to by done through and through like an 8 hour cook or something? What IT?

    ANY help with these "things" (lol) would be greatly appreciated. I've gotta get 'em in the box today at some point, he needs his cooler back!
  2. gamehawg

    gamehawg Newbie

    How long since it was killed?  

    Which legs?  

    Assuming its fresh and not frozen.

    Get it out of the ice, dry it as best you can and get in a  fridge, a pellicle will form that will help with the next step.  You can leave it uncovered in fridge up to 2 weeks so you have time to plan. 
  3. Okay, thanks for that heads up. They are the foreleg and shanks, I guess you'd call it, or simply the front legs. He's taken the Hams and done a marinade for making jerky. So this was left and he can't deal with them right now.

    I'll get this done in the next couple hours, after that where  do I take it? Anyone? I don't have a week or 2 or really any abundance of time as that Fridge is generally full all the time already also. Teenagers in the house.  haha.

    Missed the other question- Fresh not frozen. Shot Thanksgiving morning. So, 4 days now. And kept in  a large bag, on ice in the cooler since. I just took possession last night.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  4. gamehawg

    gamehawg Newbie

    take a fine filet knife, dry em off and cut the entire surface area off.  Its usually silver skin and you can kinda get under it and skin it.  This minimizes any contaminents are removed.  have a rag next to you and clean the knife off as much as possible.  Then debone it and grind it into burger meat and use as you would ground meat.  taco meat or burgers or snack sticks.  You'll be lucky to get 4 to 5 lbs of meat as most of it is bone. 

    He 'gave' you the bottom of the barrel meat but its still good for something. 

    If the bullet went through either of them be very careful of fragments contaminating the opposite side, had to throw a few front shoulders away as bullet blew up going in and sprayed other side with lead. 

    or you can filet it as above, cover with slivered onions and light seasoning wrap in foil and slow cook till 140 internal.

    Not the best cut for anything but grind meat IMHO
  5. Thanks for the input and tip on cleaning them up. He did mention that his son got him in the shoulder, but only one took a hit. So it appears.

    I had hoped to do something more than simply grinding it up for burger, but that's not a bad alternative if a whole smoke or something else isn't fit for this.

    And in all fairness he did also give us one of the Tenderloins, marinated and cooked on his offset over charcoal and hickory. Good enough but a little tough. Good enough that it's mostly gone, but tough enough that I sliced it as thin as I could then braised it for some time in stock and red wine. Good flavor but a little chewy.

    Lot to learn on my end!

    Thanks again.
  6. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    "SNACK STICKS" .... mix a lil pork fat in and stuff it into snack sticks.... (if you have the means)
  7. Gamehawg is right best thing is ground to burger or sausage. I have had a ham that was marinated with itailian dressing several days then done in a crockpot with some beef broth all day that was actually really good. I would think that would work with front shoulder. I wouldn't smoke it since there wont be any fat to break down. You could debone and tenderize it and do a quick sear to medium rare and it might not be bad
  8. I don't have a sausage attachment or whatever it would take to do them. Would like to be able to though.

    It's sounding like even a long slow and low isn't going to make these what I'd hoped, which I'm not entirely sure what I'd hoped...

    Was thinking maybe a couple hours of smoke then into a foil pan with broth and veggies, cover and let it braise and hopefully tenderize for another few hours. maybe then pull it and mix with some sauce(?).

    Or I'll clean it up, give it a fine grind and maybe just do some crock pot Chili. lol.

    Paralysis by analysis is setting in...
  9. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  10. Thanks wC. I'm about to get cut off since my kids have ruined this computer.

    after adding the bacon blanket, then how long was it, ballpark? just so I can be keeping track?

  11. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think it took around 4-5 hours. I watched the meat temp and pulled at 158-160. There is not a lot of meat but my nephew said it was very good. It is a tough piece of meat to do anything with.
  12. Venison Barbacoa  This is from Hank Shaw, website: Hunter.Angler.Gardner.Cook

    This is maybe the best recipe ever for the front shoulders of deer, which can be sinewy and tough to deal with. Cooking with this method really lets nature take its course, and all that connective tissue will dissolve and the meat will be super tender.

    But it will still be really lean, so I add about 1/4 cup of lard, bear fat or duck fat to the shredded venison before I serve. You would use olive or vegetable oil. Of course, if you use fatty meats like beef or lamb or pork, you won’t need to do this.

    Be sure to have lots of accompaniments for your barbacoa: It’s a base for a meal, the do-it-yourself construction of your tacos is more than half the fun!

    You can buy chipotles in adobo in many supermarkets, and definitely in Latin markets or online. One more thing: This stuff reheats beautifully, so make a big batch.

    Serves 4 to 6.

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 3 hours, more or less
    • 2 to 3 pounds venison, from the shoulder or legs
    • 2 to 4 canned chipotles in adobo
    • 1 red onion, chopped
    • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • ½ cup lime juice
    • ½ cup cider vinegar
    • 1 quart beef or venison stock
    • 1/4 cup lard or vegetable oil
    • Smoked salt (optional)
    • Cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados and hot sauce for garnish
    1. Put everything in a slow cooker or Dutch oven and cook, covered, until the meat falls off the bone, which will be between 2 hours (for many domestic meats and young deer) and 6 hours if you have a very old animal. If you use a slow cooker, set it to “high.” If you use a regular pot, put it into the oven set to 300°F.
    2. Pull all the meat from the bones and shred with forks or your fingers. Stir in the lard and as much smoked salt as you want. You want the lard or oil to coat the shreds of meat. Pour over some of the juices from the pot and put the meat in a pan for the table. Serve with tacos, in a burrito or on a bun.
  13. Thanks to everyone! First time giving something like this a shot (obviously) and lot's of good info from all. I now have an idea how to prep the thing, I'll let it air dry for a time in the fridge, then I think I'm going to try and combine some other ideas.

    I like the idea of getting it smoked so it should release a little easier, but it appears if it goes too long, too well done it may turn to mush. So I'll shoot for around 160 or so, Thanks Wood cutter.

    From there, This recipe sounds pretty amazing and is just the kind of thing my kids might really dive in on. So I'm going to get some smoke on it, clean it up a bit then into the crock pot it goes. I'll try to get some pics (though I'm terrible with that stuff) and will report back how the finished product comes out.

    Many thanks again. We shall see!
  14. Anxious to see how it goes! I had Barbacoa tacos last night for the first time but it was beef! Very good though and this is a recipe that I filed and have yet to use myself so will be waiting for your report.
  15. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    Im concerned that if whatever you prepare isnt really good, you'll be giving your family a negative impression of venison, which would really be a shame. Especially since you started out with a tough loin...   (I've never had a tough venison loin, it should have been VERY tender and flavorful... no offense but I'm wondering about the skill/experience of the preparer...)

    Therefore the only thing I would consider doing with it is Chili. Ive never had a front shoulder that wasnt tough and sinewy, not great flavor.  Chili solves all of those, front legs always go into chili in my house.

    Venison is fantastic, be careful that you dont turn your kids off it for life.
  16. i appreciate that, but we're okay on that front. They're all pretty adventurous eaters and aren't shy about telling Dad when  something is off the mark. Doesn't usually keep them from trying again, unless it's oysters for my daughter. haha

    The neighbor that did the Tenderloins has been hunting and eating the stuff his entire life. I didn't get why the loin was tough and don't really think he did either. He marinated them in a good mix of spices and some soy/ Worcestershire type mix for about 3 days, so it had a good flavor. He then did it in his offset, but with only charcoal in the main chamber, over indirect heat of what he told me was 300 or so. Cooked it for a relatively short time to a rare/medium rare and pulled it off and let it rest for another 30-40 minutes.

    I thought that sounded like a pretty good approach, do you see anywhere he went wrong there? I wouldn't think you'd want a long cook or smoke for a tenderloin, but is that the issue?

    Another general question- the leg is now cleaned and patted dry, it's ready to go rest in the garage fridge to develop a little pellicle for the smoke. Question- Will this develop if covered in plastic wrap? I kind of thinking no, as the air needs to hit it, but thought I'd ask. Anyone?

    As far as a batch of Chili goes that's my full proof fall back. If I don't like what comes out of the prep, that might be it's destiny. May try the recipe above with beef first to see the reaction. Always love a new recipe to cook.

    As far as venison in general we've all had it plenty of times, lot's of hunters around here, many of them friends. This is simply my first run with a front leg and trying it out on the smoker.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  17. Tough happens. Had some backstrap last week from a 90 pound doe that my sis-n-law killed that was cut up and marinated in wishbone for 2 days and fried. It tasted great but was way tough for backstrap, even for a 200lb buck much less a small doe
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  18. dumb question, but backstrap = tenderloin? I know they come from the same area, but trying to glean as much info around here as I can. Don't sound so dumb that way...

    And this was a 155# Buck, so that may have something to do with it?

    Now, how about that pellicle, folks?
  19. radio

    radio Smoking Fanatic

    I would cut away the dried layer of silverskin covering the meat and separate the muscles with a sharp knife discarding any bloodshot meat from the bullet wound.  The larger parts of the muscle can be mighty good as roasts, smoked, sliced and fried or cut into chunks for stews and/or chili.  It would also make some kick butt sliced jerky!

    I've never had a grinder but wouldn't hesitate to make some sausage if I did.  If you cut up the shoulders carefully, there is a lot of great meat on them and it would be (IMHO) a shame to grind the whole thing. If you had a whole deer, I can see grinding the shoulder meat though.  A word of advice here, be sure to cut away any fat as it is not like beef or pork and tastes pretty nasty when cooked on the meat
  20. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    Good to hear, sometimes its hard to tell where a person is coming from in a short post.

    backstrap=tenderloin ... most people think so and use the words interchangeably. I think thats due to marketing, I think the meat industry has used terms to their advantage for quite a while. (Observe how meat is labeled in grocery stores, sometimes I cant figure out what something is!)

    My understanding is that the tenderloin is underneath the backbone, inside of the abdominal cavity, and on a deer it is pretty small - about the diameter of a 50 cent piece, only 8" or so long. I think most people either leave it with the carcass or toss it into the grinder pile.

    Backstrap is on top of the backbone, outside the abdominal cavity. On a 155 lb deer it would be about the size of the business end of a baseball bat, more than 2 feet long.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but I've never worried about pellicle for smoked venison.  What bothered me was the ice, I was taught many years ago to never get the venison wet - if it has to go on ice be sure to keep it dry, dont wash it in the creek or with the hose, etc etc. The pellicle forms a natural protective barrier, water introduces problems. Anyhow at this point if its dry I'd just trim off the outside and smoke it!

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