Oh, deer. Venison is all the rage these days. Not only has Arby's announced it would try a venison sandwich on its menu at 17 locations across the country, including one in Atlanta, but deer hunting season started in Georgia in September.
So what is venison? For the uninitiated, venison is -- and "Bambi" fans might want to stop reading now -- deer meat. It's not uncommon to see venison on restaurant menus in the fall, to coincide with hunting season. It can be eaten in various cuts and preparations -- steaks, sausages, jerky -- and tastes like a gamier version of beef.
Venison is often said to be a healthy option for meat-lovers. It has more protein than other types of red meat, high levels of iron and vitamin B and has a small amount of fat, according to food writer and chef Rosie Sykes.
If you're looking to try cooking venison on your own -- if you're not a hunter, you can purchase some at Sprouts Farmers Market locations -- here are a few recipes to get you started:
Venison and black bean chili
This recipe from Seasons 52 substitutes venison for beef. While many chili recipes are cooked on top of the stove, this recipe calls for braising the meat in the oven.
Per serving: 267 calories (percent of calories from fat, 43), 15 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 12 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 33 milligrams cholesterol, 487 milligrams sodium.
This recipe, shared by James Beard Award winner Virginia Willis, uses venison in place of the commonly-used beef for this distinctly Southern dish.
"More often than not, Mama made country fried steak out of venison, or deer meat. We've always had deer meat in the freezer, a gift from my uncle or a kind neighbor. She would marinate the full-flavored meat in red wine to tenderize it
"The first time we cooked venison at culinary school, my chef told me to cook it rare. I was astonished. Rare deer meat? Well, it was a revelation. The meat has so much more flavor than being cooked to gray and tasteless. Now, when Mama cooks country fried venison steak, she always cooks it rare.
How she adapted it: "I now add a bit of Dijon mustard and herbs to really bring out the flavor, and Japanese bread crumbs for a crispier coating. If I don't have venison on hand, I often use rib-eye, a very tender cut of beef and a huge hit in my cooking classes --- and when I go home to visit Mama. It is a good example of taking something typically very Southern and using French cooking techniques to make it more refined."
Per serving (based on 4): 444 calories (percent of calories from fat, 36), 45 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 17 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 215 milligrams cholesterol, 303 milligrams sodium.
Per serving: 209 calories, 6 grams fat, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 307 milligrams sodium.