It's really starting to feel like fall around here. Cold, dreary, rainy... just perfect for some comfort food!
I don't know about you all, but I definitely cook differently during warm and cool months. In the summer, it's lots of grilling and salads, and in the winter more soups, stews and roasts.
I think tonight I'm going to make a meat loaf. We always laugh about this at my house, because when my son was about 3, he couldn't say "loaf" and always called it "meat rope". It kinda stuck, and now we all call it "meat rope"!
And as you might expect, we make it a little differently here as well....
I've mentioned before that we do a lot of hunting and fishing and that is primarily how we put meat on the table. With the exception of chicken and the occasional steak, most of what we eat is hunted, fished or raised ourselves. And archery season for deer just opened around here so we need to make room in the freezer for fresher meat.
When we harvest a deer, we are very careful to use the entire animal- nothing goes to waste (we even tan the hides to make buckskin) in the spirit of the Native Americans and Pioneers. So even the smallest scraps of meat get ground into hamburger. Since my husband is a butcher by profession, this is fairly easy for us- we even have our own commercial grinder and slicer.
Venison is extremely lean and is one of the healthiest red meats you can eat. Since deer are wild animals, they are not fed commercial feed and of course are not given antibiotics, hormones, etc. All the meat is by definition free range and organic.
When you cook with venison you can use it just as you would a cut of beef, but you need to remember that the meat is much tougher and leaner than commercial beef cattle. When you grind it for hamburger, you need to add some fat for it to hold together during cooking. We usually add about 10% beef fat to the ground venison, and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference in taste between it and ground beef.
For a recipe like a meatloaf, it is perfect. There is very little fat (sometimes beef/pork meatloaf can be very greasy) and adding breadcrumbs, ketchup and a packet of onion soup mix make up a tasty meatloaf that is also better for you. Add some mashed potatoes from our garden and a salad of the season's last tomatoes and I don't think you could have a better "locally sourced" meal.