Deer season on Martha’s Vineyard means venison

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If you frequent Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury in the early mornings, you may have noticed that blaze orange and camouflage are very en vogue at the moment. It’s hunting season, and the telltale gear abounds. Though you can’t buy local venison on the Vineyard, if you ask around, I’m sure you’ll find someone who knows someone who knows someone.

Venison is one of the healthiest meat choices out there, being rich in protein, iron, and vitamins B12 and B6. It’s also low in saturated fat and very lean, which is obvious to anyone who has seen one of these sleek animals dart in front of his or her car.

Some cuts of venison take to different cooking methods better than others. Tougher pieces like rump and shoulder are best braised, where a lot of moisture will be retained. These cuts are ideal for a hearty stew with seasonal root vegetables.

Ground venison mixed with bacon makes a good burger. If you find the gamey essence of venison too strong, try marinating all-day or overnight in a marinade rich in spices. The coveted back-strap is best roasted with salt, pepper, and garlic. Try it wrapped in bacon or with roasted pears.

Substitute venison for beef in a classic Russian stroganoff: Sautéed pieces of meat in a rich sour cream sauce.

Venison skewers make for a simple yet satisfying dinner. Marinate the meat in your favorite spices for at least an hour and chop onions, peppers, squash, or whatever other veggies you have that can hold their own on a skewer; portabella mushrooms and artichokes are great. Once the skewers are assembled, brush with some extra marinade and broil.

Hunting season comes to a close on December 31, but venison meat can be stored in the freezer to last you all winter.

Venison Stroganoff
2 lbs. venison stew meat
1 12 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
12 oz. sour cream
½ can green chilis
1 tsp. rosemary or thyme

1. Bring mushroom soup with equal parts water and sour cream to a simmer, then turn to low.
2. Brown stew meat with salt, pepper, and oil. Be careful to not crowd the pan so meat cooks evenly.
3. Add meat and juices to sour cream mixture.
4. Add any veggies (Brussels sprouts, baby portobellas etc.)
5. Add beef stock or water until you have the desired consistency.