You knew I had to do a post about the butchering, didn't you? I know that half of you have no desire to read about butchering, and the other half are only reading with the kind of horrified curiosity that causes people to stare at car wrecks. Which is kind of what this deer was, come to think of it. What can I say? This is my life.
We started at about 9 a.m. yesterday. A. does the initial skinning, which takes about half an hour, and then he cuts the various parts into the larger cuts. That's when I take over. I do all the trimming, cleaning, wrapping, labeling, and everything else. Because I'm a control freak. And I think that careless butchering is the reason that most venison tastes nasty.
Here's the thing with venison: If you leave in any connective tissue, fat, or silverskin, it will have a gross, gamy taste. Some people LIKE the taste of game. I am not one of those people. I am convinced the meat is rendered milder by aging it for a few days, boning all the pieces, trimming it carefully, and brining it for a bit to draw out some of the blood. So after A. cuts it into pieces and bones them, he drops them in a big pot filled with brine. After about half an hour, I take them out of the brine and trim them, cutting off every tiny bit of connective tissue and silverskin. It takes for-damn-ever and always seems to result in my filleting a bit of my hand off as well (OW), but our venison last year was absolutely perfect. Who am I to argue with those results?
Mia was hanging around for the initial skinning. Can you IMAGINE the torture? Here's the very thing she spends half her life chasing in the woods. It's hanging right there! And we won't let her lick it! We're such cruel dog-parents.
Do you see how I took a photo when A. was blocking the view of the deer? That's for you sensitive types out there. I'm so indulgent.
Shortly after this, I had to lock Mia in the pen, from whence she watched the rest of the butchering with bated breath and drooling mouth. But don't feel too sorry for her--she got a big-ass leg bone to gnaw on later. She couldn't believe her luck. She ran off with it and kept looking back, like surely we would be coming to take this wonderful prize away.
After the brining and trimming comes the wrapping (first in plastic wrap, then in butcher paper), the labeling, and the cutting up of dog scraps. The dogs made out like bandits this year, because half the meat was bruised from the car that killed the deer. I think we ended up with more dog scraps than human food. Lucky dogs.
This is the meat we ended up with (for the humans).
Please admire my professional wrapping job.
The pot holds the scraps that we used later to make sausage. Which was a fun process itself, because this year, instead of using the 130-year-old manual meat grinder that A.'s great-grandparents brought from Pennsylvania, we used the 50-year-old electric meat grinder that belonged to A.'s grandmother. It was pretty exciting. And a hell of a lot easier.
So, the final tally: About 20 pounds of human food and about 30 pounds of dog food. Between the half-cow, the three lambs, and Bambi there, our freezer is as full as it can get. We're ready for winter.