Whether you are DIY butchering or taking deer to a commercial processor, there are a few cuts of venison that are often underappreciated to the point of being entirely discarded.
1. Neck: It is rather disheartening to see pictures of hanging deer with the neck lopped off at the shoulders, obviously discarded to the gut pile. Sure, neck is a tougher cut of meat, but there are all kinds of things you can do with it such as grinding for burger and sausage, cutting up for stew meat, smoking whole, sawing into disks and braising for Osso Bucco-style stew, or deboning and tieing together with butcher’s twine for roast meat
2. Heart: A long standing hunting tradition that should be honored. What does venison heart tastes like? It tastes like Venison, just don’t overcook it. There are many interesting things you can do with heart such as sauteing, pickling and using the meat in sausage.
3. Liver: This one makes some stomachs turn, but liver can be good eating and is also very healthy. Liver and Onions is a classic dish and easy to make. Salt Cured Liver is a good one and then there is the ever popular dirty rice. Liver can also make excellent additions to Andouille sausage recipes.
4. Ribs: So much venison rib meat is wasted…. At the very least, you can bone rib meat out and grind it. However, you can also serve venison ribs on the bone.
5. Bones/Stock: One of the easiest-to-make and most overlooked use of Venison. If you hunt deer, There is really no good reason why you should not be making venison stock. It is delicious, simple to make, has all kinds of uses, allows you the luxury of never having to purchase beef stock again, and it is full of nutrients and minerals. Bone marrow may very well be one of the healthiest resources a deer has to offer, it is even considered a super food.
6. Tongue: Not a commonly used cut of venison, but it is there and it can be prepared to make tasty food. Tacos De Lengua are likely the most popular use for tongues these days. If you have any doubts as to whether or not you will enjoy tongue, try ordering a Taco de Lengua from your local, authentic Mexican restaurant. Removing the tongues can take a little more ingenuity than you might think, but you’ll figure it out.
Using these six cuts of venison, you can greatly improve your yield. If you are taking your deer to a commercial processor, simply make requests for the tongue and bones, then inquire how the processor intends to use the ribs and neck meat. The heart and liver will need to be retained at the time of field dressing.