This recipe started out with a gift. A gift that caused a downward spiral of doubts and conflict.
We moved to our new house in the woods two years ago, and since then only once briefly met our left side neighbors, who own a nice big chunk of land.
Finally two weeks ago I called them and asked them to stop by for a visit. The visit turned out quite nice, they are very friendly and nice people, but the husband is a hunter. RED LIGHT ON: I have extremely ambivalent feelings about hunting. Soooo, when he ran home and came back with a giant bag full of venison and antelope cuts as a gift I had to say thank you and look very excited, as I really want to keep good neighborly relations, but my heart was kind of sinking.
The scarier part, for me, was that I was also quite excited to try all this new wild meat.
That night, about 4 am, I woke up with my conscience nagging. Of course I could not fall back asleep…
You MUST understand how much I LOVE animals. We live on a few acres of land and have 17 pets. Cats, dogs, geese and my most precious and beloved ducks. We do get eggs, and don’t even THINK about plucking one feather….
Such an inveterate carnivore as I am you would think I have no problem killing for my meat, well, YOU ARE RIGHT! I should NOT have problem doing it. I am a firm believer in self-sufficiency and raising my own meat humanely, but the last (and only) time I tried to cut a meat chicken’s throat (that we had raised) I was a sobbing mess in about 5 secs and even I managed to kill that one, I never killed anythingelse since.
HUMANELY RAISED VS WILD
I used to think hunting deer was a sustainable thing to do, seeing the deer overpopulation and their destruction of delicate ecosystems, but then I read few articles about how certain states actually feed deer so they can maintain large herds to keep hunters coming back and make bank form the permits.
Does this fit the sustainable diet dilemma? I guess it could, if you hunted your deer where it was actually needed. BUT sustainable or not, I would NEVER be able to kill a deer, maybe only if my own very survival depended on it.
Do I think humanely raised meat is more sustainable? Yes, I actually do, as in pasture models like Joel Salatin’s for example. Would I be able to kill my own humanely raised animal. NO!
After all this ranting and conscience biting I can only come to one conclusion: I am a hipocrit! I must be one. I should be a vegetarian otherwise. But my body loves meat, especially red meat (I am an O blood type) and I feel great when I eat it.
What is a girl to do? I am not sure. Until now the closest I could get to a resolution to my dilemma has been to buy the best possible meat (local, organic, sustainable, humanely raised) or raise it myself – and let the husband kill it!
I am still far from pleased by this compromise, but I am a human animal, well, we all are, and in nature everybody eats everybody and they don’t think twice! I’d like to think I am just a part of nature and have to follow the rules, but at the same time I have a conscience, and maybe that is really what gives us humans a special place in the scheme of things.
What do YOU think about this?
- 2 tablespoons lard or ghee
- 1 organic sweet onion
- 2 organic carrots
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 pound ground venison
- 2 cups whole dried sun-dried tomatoes
- Celtic sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
- Soak sun-dried tomatoes in a cup of hot water.
- Peel onions and coarsely chop.
- In the meantime melt fat in a dutch oven or other heavy bottom casserole.
- Add onions to the pot and sweat on a low flame.
- Wash and trim the carrots and cut in to thin rounds.
- Add carrots to the pot.
- On the side in a large skillet brown the meat on a very high flame until evenly cooked, about 10 min.
- Add meat to the carrots and onions, and add the wine.
- Raise the flame to high to evaporate the wine.
- Add tomatoes to the pot with soaking liquid.
- Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
- Add herbs to the pot.
- Lower flame and cook for about 1.5 hour.
- Serve with cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles.
I eat meat. I totally get the dilemma but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I can’t wait to try this venison…
Emily we will cook up some together 😉
I’m reading about your dilemma and it sounds like I wrote it myself!
I have the same ongoing dilemma around meat.
We live in rural NSW, Australia where we are face to face with some very cute looking cows and calfs, sheep and lambs. So everytime I meat, I can’t help but feel some guilt about this animal’s life.
I have tried being vegetarian, vegan, raw, you name it, it just does not work for my body and I crave some hearty food, especially meat.
I also try to source meat that I know has come from a reputable source where the animals are treated humanely.
I am so glad other people share my dilemma! At this point the answer for me is to eat 99% locally sourced, happy meat form farmers I know who raise their animals on pasture and with all care and respect! Still I do give it thoughts…
I enjoyed your blog and I understand how you feel. I think your background and your “raising” as we say, has much to do with the way you look at hunting. I was raised in the deep woods of East Texas and hunting was a way of life. The generation before me took down the gun and went to the woods when they needed meat. Not everyone raised beef and pigs to butcher, deer and other wild game were plentiful in those days, and the land was accessible. They never fed the deer in those days, they didn’t have to. It’s much different now, all the land is private or company owned and leased out and just about the only way you can kill your own is to join a lease and then there is so much competition that the only way to find one is to offer it a place to eat. It’s just different, not by choice necessarily, but by necessity. Most leases are so expensive now that just don’t get to hunt unless they’re blessed to own enough land themselves to have deer on their own land. Even then, you have to lure them in so to speak. It’s not a fun thing, but in this day of processed meats, it’s become a necessary thing again. Venison is a healthy meat and we eat it as much as possible. The older I get, the harder it is for me to kill, I’d much rather someone just give us some. I have to say that, yes….there are those out there that kill just for the rack and sometimes even leave the meat on the ground. That’s not the way of a true hunter, that’s the way of a egotistical trophy hunter. Thanks for the recipe! We have a recipe for venison around here that we call hash. It comes from the days when none of the meat was wasted. The neck was boiled and the shoulder sometimes, meat removed, shredded and cooked down with lots and lots of onions. It’s very good, maybe I’ll do a blog on it one day. It’s been handed down from generation to generation in our family. It’s not a recipe that’s well known, my husband who was raised in a nearby town, had never heard of it. We were raised on it. Sorry to go on and on, thanks again for your article.
Thank you for your point of view Patti. I agree with you, I know my upbringing has a lot to do with it! Imagine growing up in Italy, where any real forest and wildlife has been largely exterminated. Only in the highest mountains you still have the chance to spot a muflon or a deer, if you are very lucky. Hunting was definitely not sustainable then, nor was it needed. Italian hunters go and shoot sparrows and pigeons for lack of better game. Isn’t that just wrong?!
Thank you for giving me a first hand account of the situation in Texas, I find that extremely interesting. Here in Northern California killing a deer or two in a year would still be ok, as they are plentiful and you can hunt on public land with a permit.
About your recipe, how would you feel about doing a guest post for my blog?!
Thanks for asking, I would love too. I forgot to mention that there are National Forests here where you can still hunt, but it is illegal to feed the deer on that land. There are places in Texas where deer are extremely plentiful, but in our area of East Texas, not so much as it was in the past.
Well, at least there are still some places where it might retain a semblance of sustainability. I think I will never be the person who goes out to hunt, but I also will say never say no to meat that otherwise might go to waste!!
I’m at the ‘hour and a half in the Dutch oven’ stage of the recipe, so have been reading the comments and thought I’d add my voice.
I’m English (living in S Carolina), dislike guns, and have no background in hunting at all – the venison in the pot is a gift from a hunter friend – but I am willing to squeeze the trigger for meat. My reasoning is pretty simple: if I want to eat meat, I should also be willing to kill it. I respect you for calling yourself a hypocrite, by the way!
I’ve still not squeezed a trigger yet, but I have ‘processed’ chickens, turkeys, and rabbits many times. I expect that some people in the same position might start to feel callous about killing, but I’ve found the opposite: that the culling process has a kind of sanctity to it, if you can spot it. It reminds me of the beginning of The Gods Must Be Crazy, when a Kalahari Bushman explains to the antelope he has shot about his family, that they need to eat him and are grateful for him. My wife and I pray together before we cull chickens pretty much for the same reasons.
Hey Mr David!
I feel you on the fact that killing does not get any easier…we did a few batches of meat chickens…result = we stopped eating chicken for a while…as we also believe that we should be able to kill the meat we want to eat…
It’s a tough choice, and I wis I had a better answer to this conundrum.
In the meantime I have pet ducks and geese and so I do not eat duck or goose anymore….and about the chickens….we got laying hens!