Deer season is here again with bow hunting underway and a five-day modern gun antlerless hunt coming up in a few days.
Many Faulkner County folks still have meat in the freezer from last year. Better use it up because the hunter in the family will probably bring some more home soon.
How can we use those last few packages from last year?
There are the Big Three of using up deer meat in Arkansas — chili, stew and meatloaf. Nothing wrong with any of these. But two of the three call for ground deer meat, and stew can be made with ground, diced or cubed meat.
Let’s assume that some or all of the deer meat in the freezer is less desirable cuts — not the tenderloins, the roasts or even the ground meat. We have pushed it aside over the past several months. Now it’s time to use it.
OK, thaw it then get a sharp knife, a cutting board and go to work. Dice it. The definition here is that dicing means small cubes. Suit yourself on how small, but the smaller the better for quick cooking and easy eating.
One-skillet dishes come into the picture here. They are suited for such purposes, with diced deer meat as a primary ingredient. Two are described here, with the notation that exact measurements aren’t given, nor needed. And seasoning and ingredients can be modified to fit tastes and availability.
A little liquid is needed in skillet meals, and it can be Dr Pepper, Coca Cola, Mountain Dew — or water. Dice some deer meat, chop some bell pepper, preferably red and green, and chop some onion. Roughly equal proportions work fine, and chop means larger pieces than dice.
Spray a skillet with non-stick material or drop in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the diced deer meat at fairly high temperature and sprinkle with Cavender’s seasoning. No Cavender’s on hand? Use Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper or something else you like. Hold off the salt for now.
Lower the heat and add a cup of cola. If you’ve got a bottle that has gone flat, here’s a place to use it. Toss in the chopped bell pepper and the chopped onion. Stir well then put a lid on the skillet and let it cook slowly but at a little more than a simmer. Stir once or twice more, then add salt lightly with the final stirring. When the vegetables are tender, it’s done. Stop short of letting them get mushy. Serve over cooked egg noodles. Or use most any cooked pasta. Nothing wrong with cooked rice here either. A salad or sliced tomatoes and crusty bread or cornbread round out the meal.
Autumn in Arkansas means fresh apples are plentiful, and here’s a use for some of them.
Deer meat, sauerkraut, apples and brown sugar are all you need. We don’t add salt, but you may prefer a sprinkling of it. Peel and dice a couple good-sized apples. Make it three or four for a larger meal.
Brown a generous amount of diced deer meat over fairly high heat. Lower the heat and stir in a can (for serving two people) or two cans (for three, four or five people) of sauerkraut. We prefer the Bavarian style kraut, but the regular works fine also. Stir in the diced apples and mix well. Then scatter a tablespoon or two of brown sugar over top. Cover and let cook at medium-low heat until thoroughly heated and the apples are done. This won’t take long, 15 or 20 minutes.
Again, a salad and crusty bread or cornbread round out the meal.