Venison Prep: Soak It Overnight or Not? Another Good Chili Recipe, Too

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While doing a little venison prep the other night on a deer I killed last week, I started thinking about the post-trim routines I’ve heard of over the years.

“Soak your venison in …” and then it’ll often be followed by water, milk, buttermilk or maybe something else. Not a marinade. These “soaks” are specifically designed for one thing — removal of the blood and perceived “gamey” taste.

By Alan Clemons, Managing Editor

I’ve soaked cuts of fresh venison in water overnight in the refrigerator, sometimes plain and sometimes in salt water. Drain, rinse well, then marinate and cook, or prep it for the freezer. I’ve never soaked anything in milk or buttermilk; the former is part of my batter routine for fried fish fillets, and the latter is for cornbread.

The Outdoor Edge Razor Blade has replaceable, sharp blades and is super for trimming venison or skinning and cutting at the meat pole.
The Outdoor Edge Razor Blade has replaceable, sharp blades and is super for trimming venison or skinning and cutting at the meat pole.

A quick note: I was trimming some backstraps and a hindquarter with my Outdoor Edge Razor Blaze, which has tough, sharp and replaceable blades. The 8-inch knife fit nicely in my hand and the rubberized Kraton handles didn’t slip, which was nice. They had just enough texture to give me a nice grip but didn’t gum up with bits of fat or silver skin. The blade sliced deftly, trimmed away the silver skin and cleaned up pretty easily. Just be sure to follow the directions for cleaning and drying. Plus, it’s a folding blade so it fits neatly in a pack or drawer in the kitchen. It’s a good tool to have with any other prep tools in your kit.

So while I’m trimming and putting chunks of beautiful venison in bowls, I started wondering about whether other hunters soak their meat overnight or longer. I’ve heard of some even leaving them in coolers for days in ice water with salt to remove the blood and “gamey” taste. As for the taste, I don’t want bland meat so I’ve never soaked for long periods, usually just overnight. I’ve never soaked a beef roast or loins to remove blood, so I haven’t figured out why some hunters do this for their venison.

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Any ideas? Would love to hear some feedback about your venison prep.

More Venison Chili!

David Rainer is an old pal, former newspaper outdoors editor in Mobile, and now works for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. We’ve chased a few fish and deer over the years and he’s pretty good in the kitchen, too.

ChiliHere’s one of his favorite recipes for Venison Chili and, just like him, it’s straightforward and doesn’t come with a lot of fluffy pretense. Good stuff. Give it a try.

VENISON CHILI

¼ cup olive oil 2 large cloves garlic, minced 4 large onions, chopped 2 large green peppers, chopped (optional) 4 pounds ground venison 3-4 cans diced tomatoes 2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste 4 16-ounce cans of kidney beans 1/4-1/3 cup chili powder 1-3 dashes of cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon liquid crab boil (my secret ingredient) 1 tablespoon salt 1-3 dashes of garlic salt 2-3 bay leaves

Heat olive oil in large stock pot with heavy bottom and sauté garlic, onions and pepper until tender. Add venison and brown for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, chili powder, cayenne pepper, crab boil and salt and garlic salt. Mix together and then add bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 hours. Serves 10-12.