Front Quarters – Burger, Jerky, Stew meat, Shoulder blade roasts (elk only)
Backstraps – Roasts or Steaks
Rib Meat – Burger
Tenderloins – Keep Whole (see Wild Game Marinade post for details on how to prepare)
All trimmings go into the burger tote.
When working on both front and hind quarters I generally cut up a manageable sized chunk of meat at a time, separating out steaks, roasts, burger trimmings, stew/jerky meat, and scraps.
For the backstraps (prime rib), I cut them into 6-8” roasts so I can grill them whole with a meat thermometer (again, see Wild Game Marinade post). Neck meat, rib meat, and clean red meat trimmings will all go into burger. For the best tasting burger, trim away all fat and most of the thick gristle/sinew.
Unlike beef fat, venison (deer & elk) fat has a strong flavor most people don’t care for. The good news is that unlike beef, deer and elk deer store fat around organs and in single layers on top of the muscles under the skin. This makes it relatively easy to remove during processing.
So, as you begin making progress you’ll start to fill bowls or totes with steaks and burger meat. It’s important to keep your meat cold as you work. You can use a spare refrigerator or a cooler partially filled with ice. I like to place my steaks on a cookie sheet so I can easily move them from coolers or my spare fridge.
Grinding is a simple process but there are some key things to consider before running your hard-earned game through a meat grinder.
First, wild game is very lean and lower in fat and cholesterol than beef – by a long shot! And because venison is so lean it needs some fat to help hold patties together during cooking. But, you don’t want to add just any fat or suet to your burger. And there is nothing in stone that says you have to add fat to your ground venison. Some people like to grind a portion of their burger coarse with no fat added. This is excellent way to prepare wild game for chili, spaghetti sauces, etc.
Wrapping Meat – The Final Critical Step
|Bull down - time to get busy.|
Hanging backstraps and bone-in quarters immediately upon removal expedites the evaporation cooling process.
|Splitting the hams all the way to the femur speeds the cooling of these massive muscle groups and reduces the possibility of bone souring.|
|Layering meat on ice ensures quick cooling of your game meat. I can|
ice down a whole elk in these two large coolers.
|Working with a smaller portions makes the job easier and allows you to keep the rest of the meat cold.|
|A few hours' work, ready for the grinder - my elk burger starts off as well-trimmed red meat free of fat and sinew.|
|My garage meat cutting set up. I've finished cutting and am getting ready to begin grinding burger. Notice the open cooler at left ready to receive loads of burger. I have also set up my wrapping station. Nothing fancy but it does the job.|
|Starting to grind and incorporate the beef fat.|
|First pass through the coarse plate with the 5-7% beef fat incorporated.|
|After the initial coarse grind, switch over to the fine plate for the final grind.|
|Final grind. You need to "push" the burger into the throat to keep it flowing.|
Never stick your hand into the throat - use a pushing device.
|Getting ready to wrap. I have pre-cut a large stack of butcher paper and taped down the Stretch-Tite dispenser carton to keep efficicent. This way all I have to do is pull out another length when I'm ready for the next wrapping.|
|I package about 20# at a time. Once I've got them all wrapped in plastic, I wrap them all in paper, stamp them, and load them into the freezer before starting on another 20# load.|
|Freezer tape or regular masking tape works fine. I tear off a lot of tape ahead of time so I can wrap quickly.|
|Butcher paper - Step 1: start with the corner at right and roll the meat forward once.|
|Step 2: Tightly pull the sides across, overlapping them.|
|Step 3: Tightly roll forward to the tip of the paper and secure with tape.|
|Rubber stamps make marking packages a snap. They can be ordered|
from any office supply store or you can purshase a set from LEM Products.
My date stamp only went to 2009 so I had to add the 2010 with a Sharpie marker.
|Burger gets its own shelf in my large upright freezer. This meat will last in excess of five years and maintain its freshness and taste.|
(c) Tom Ryle 2010