How to Process a Deer at Home: Part 3
Part Three: Dressing Up Your Cuts
Once you have finished the basic butchering steps outlined in part two of our guide to butchering at home, it is time to process your quarters into proper cuts of meat.
As we go along here, we will explain the different cuts and give you some tips about the way we like to prepare and season venison using our Bearded Butcher Blend Spices. We are going to continue using the Outdoor Edge Butchering Kit. The knives in this set are excellent for making great cuts of venison at home.
Back to the Backstrap
The first thing you want to do when trimming your backstrap is to find the seam in the muscle. You can open this up by hand, and then give it just a little help with the knife to expose the edge. Trim the long edge off and save it for trimmings.
Next, find the thick spinal sinew that runs all the way down the backstrap and cut that out. This is often used to make traditional bowstrings. Now, we need to remove the silver skin.
Use the fish fillet method by starting at the thick end of the backstrap and cutting down to, but not through the silver skin. Then carefully press the knife away from you while gently pulling the edge of the silver skin and the silver skin will come off. If some parts are missed, you can flip the backstrap over and angle your knife blade against the skin and gently cut away from yourself. This way, you can catch the skin and lift it off without destroying the backstrap.
With the silver skin and sinews removed, you can cut the backstrap into 1 ¼” slices for chops. These are some of the most desirable cuts of venison.
Dressing up a Backstrap
A way to cut and prepare a backstrap that is sure to impress is to butterfly the backstrap. To do this, you will cut the backstrap into thirds. Using the thickest portions, place your hand on top of the backstrap and use your knife to cut as close to the table as possible without cutting through the backstrap. Using your other hand, gently unroll the backstrap as you cut. You can continue to cut and unroll the backstrap until you have one uniform, thin layer.
You can season this with Bearded Butchers Spices. The Original is a personal favorite on a backstrap like this. Next, you will layer whatever filling you would like. Feta cheese, spinach, and onions is a good choice. So is cream cheese and jalapenos for a creamy spicy kick. All you have to do is roll the butterflied backstrap up and tie it off. Smoker, grill, or the oven, this is a great way to make a backstrap.
Breaking Down the Hind Quarter
Next, we are going to separate the hind quarters. These parts can be used for many great dishes. The major portions are the round steaks. These are the ideal cuts for jerky. We are also going to detail how to get a great sirloin roast from a hind quarter.
Get started by applying a little downward force with your knife at the knee joint. When you are in the right spot, you will cut the shank off cleanly. Alternatively, you can use the bone saw to cut through the joint, but be sure to start with your knife. Bone saws don’t work well on muscle.
Using your boning knife, follow the femur bone down until it is separated from the meat. Cut around the bone and lift it out of the muscle. Now you will have a 100 percent boneless piece of venison.
There are four muscle groups we are going to deal with in the haunch. The first is the round point. The round point, also called a sirloin when it is properly dressed, has a membrane that holds it in place. You can start working it free by hand and use your knife sparingly to trim it out. This is the best piece to make roast venison, but you can also cut it up into cubes for stew meat. If you remove the connective tissue, you can also slice this into jerky.
From here, you are going to separate the other three muscle groups. These muscles will pull apart pretty easy when you find the seam in the membrane. This will take experience to learn to do quickly. A trick is to look at the direction of the grain of the muscle and work toward the direction the grain goes. You will typically find a membrane between the muscles that pulls apart.
Use your knife to cut out the top round, bottom round, and eye of round.
You will find a glob of fat on the bottom round that you should trim off. Inside the fat glob is a gland that you do not want to cook with. It will give your meat a bitter, off flavor that is unpleasant. Trash that thing.
The round is the prime cut for making jerky. It is lean and has little connecting tissue that is unpleasant in jerky. What you will want to do to prep your round steaks for jerky is to remove any excess fat. You want jerky to be as lean as possible. You will see the grain running in one direction. Slice your rounds into 1” to 1 ¼” slices against the grain. Then, set the cuts face down and slice into jerky thickness. This way, the grain will run sideways to the length of the piece of jerky, making it pull a. Part when you eat it.
Trimmings, Bones, and Everything Else
Once your jerky cuts are finished, you will have a good pile of parts you have cut off. Trim off the fat and use those pieces for ground meat. Some of these pieces may even make good stew meat, so cut carefully to remove fat and don’t waste anything.
Save the bones and hard cartilage pieces. You can simmer these for several hours to make a bone broth that is one of the best natural cold remedies you can find. The bone broth can also be used for making gravy and enhancing stews and soups.
You will simply repeat this process on the other rear quarter. Once you have finished prepping, you can make some jerky.
The Bearded Butcher Blend Jerky
Today, we are going to share our super simple way to make our favorite venison jerky. We are starting with the slices we made earlier from the rounds we cut up. You will want to find a tinted curing salt, usually available online. This will help cure the meat and preserve it.
We are going to use 12 lbs of venison today and we are going to add in ½ oz of curing salt. You can use any of the Bearded Butcher Blend spices for jerky, but our Chipotle Spice is a family favorite with venison jerky.
This couldn’t be easier. Our magic ratio is about two ounces per pound of meat, so for 12 pounds of venison, we are going to use an entire bottle of Chipotle Spice. Add in half, then mix by hand to start getting a good coat. Once the jerky is getting coated, you can add the rest of the bottle. Keep mixing until all of the jerky slices have a nice and even coat.
You will want to let this dry rub rest overnight to cure and get a really good flavor. You can dehydrate your jerky however you like to do it. You can use a smoker, The Big Green Egg, even your oven. A food dehydrator works great also, but takes a little longer.
When all is done, you will have between six and eight pounds of jerky you can be proud of, because you made it yourself.
The Fore-Quarters and Shoulders
We are going to break down the fore-quarters, and show some tricks to make sure your cuts are great. The first thing you want to do is to find a fatty glob on the top of the shoulder blade by the neck and cut this out. This is another gland that you do not want getting into your meat.
Use your knife to cut through the shoulder socket and break the shank loose. The shank meat can be trimmed and added to your ground meat pile. With the remaining shoulder, you can get a little bit of meat for jerky if you want, or you can trim that into your ground pile. We trimmed off the bottom steaks and will add that to our ground venison.
Flat Iron Steaks
With the rest of the shoulder, we are going to describe a different way to cut these up to get some really amazing steaks. If you look at the shoulder from the bottom, you can see how the blade runs all the way through. Make a cut with your knife on the top following these two bones down.
The flat iron steak will be the wider portion. You can use your knife to cut right down to the bone and following along, remove the whole steak. Cut the sinew from the shoulder steak and trim off the edges for your ground venison. When you are done, you will have a nice piece of meat with a muscle on the top and a muscle on the bottom.
Again, use the fillet method to separate the two muscles. In between, you will find silver skin. Using the same fillet method as you used with the backstrap, slice the silver skin off. Trim the steaks down to remove sinews and fat.
The flat iron steaks you are left with are going to be small, but these are some delicious cuts of venison and well worth the effort to trim out.
By the time you have trimmed all of these wonderful cuts of venison from your deer, you will have a significant pile of trimmings. You will need to carefully trim off as much of the fat, connective tissue, and any other inedible parts.
You will need to determine when you feel enough meat has been removed from the bones. The best way is to start by cutting to the bone, then working your way back. If there are bits of unpleasantness, it is easier to remove stuff you don’t want once it’s off the bone.
One of our favorite ways to use all these trimmings is to make some fresh venison bratwurst.
When you are trimming pieces for your grinder, you will need to determine the right size of cuts to get a good grind. Our grinder tends to like golf ball-ish size pieces. You don’t have to remove every little bit of sinew from the venison as you trim, but you should remove the heavier and larger sinews you find.
Tricks for Grinding Venison
When you have trimmed your pieces out for grinding, the muscle will be very lean. We add in about 10 percent pork fat to our grind to make up for the leanness and keep the sausage from drying out. We also use our original Bearded Butcher Blend Spice. We add the whole bottle into the mixing bowl before grinding. Once your meat is ground, it’s your choice how you want to stuff. We use a five pound press-type and collagen casings. You can use natural casings if you desire. Make sure you check out our post and video breaking down how to make your own sausage and bratwurst with fresh ground deer meat.
There are dozens of different ways to prepare the cuts of venison you have made following our guide. No matter what meal you choose to prepare, any of the Bearded Butcher Blend Spices will be the perfect compliment to your feast.
Remember to take your time trimming and cutting. Our videos make it seem super fast and easy, but we have lots of experience. The more you practice, the faster you will get, and the better job you will do trimming your harvested animal perfectly and wasting nothing.
If you haven't watched our YouTube video on the entire process, check it out below.
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