Oh deer, now what?

I was a vegetarian for a long time, and still sort of think of myself that way. It’s really not an accurate designation, though, because I eat beef, chicken, and pork, if they’re local. When it comes to meat, the idea of knowing the farmer is even more important to me than it is with vegetables. I’ll eat generic veggies in a pinch, but meat from a mystery source is not at all appetizing to me.

Meanwhile, we have ultra-local meat roaming our land, in the form of deer. (Turkey and rabbit too, but we’ll leave that aside for now.) Neither my husband nor I have any hunting experience. But, for a couple of winters now, he’s talked about learning to harvest some of this nutrition-on-the-hoof. The initial questions that always come up are, How would one learn how to hunt? (One answer: Jackson Landers’ classes.) How to emotionally handle the act of killing an animal? And, finally, do we even like venison?

We now have a chance to home in on that last one, because a neighbor gave us a large piece of deer meat. It was so fresh that it was still warm—quite an amazing-looking object, with silvery connective tissue lining one side of the dark red steak.

We were completely unprepared to deal with this gift, so we put it in the freezer. And now I turn to you, dear (deer?) readers. What’s the best way for two people who have almost no history eating venison to cook this up? Should we try to mask its flavor, or cook it simply and just experience the essence of the thing?

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