Ground venison makes up the bulk of many venison recipes.
Whether it be venison burgers or sausages, to more elevated dishes like bolognese and venison terrine, there is something for everyone.
However, grinding venison is not as simple as one may think, and it does require some forethought.
Best Cuts for Grinding
The first step when grinding venison is to choose the right cut.
While technically you can grind any cut of venison, some are better than others, and some are too good for other recipes to grind.
Typically all of the premium cuts of venison are spared from grinding, while all other cuts can be ground.
However, when trimming up the prime cuts, it’s a good idea to store the trimmings for grinding later, they make for great venison burgers.
Other cuts that are typically ground include:
- Trimmed venison ribs
- Venison shank
Prepping the Meat for Grinding
Before you begin grinding the meat you will need to prepare it for grinding.
The first step is to trim the meat.
- Remove any fat and membrane, as these will taint the meat.
- Remove any bloodshot meat.
- Remove glands if there are any.
- Finally, remove the silver skin.
You don’t need to be as detailed at removing the silver skin as you would be for prime cuts, but you should still remove as much as you can.
Once the meat is trimmed you need to cut it to fit into the grinder. This is an important step, especially for fat as it can wrap around the spiral.
The size will vary depending on the size of your grinder, but a good rule of thumb is 1-2 inch cubes.
The next step is to chill the meat. Chilling the meat allows the mixture to bind much better.
Most ground venison is mixed with some form of fat as the meat is quite lean, I will explain more below.
Before grinding the venison place the trimmed meat in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to allow it to chill.
The meat should be stiff to the touch but not entirely frozen. Doing this prevents the fat from melting when grinding and mixing.
As I mentioned above nearly all ground venison dishes will require some form of fat.
The fat percentage varies across different dishes, but I find that most dishes fall between 10-30%
You can use a calculator to find the fat percentage for burgers.
Once you have figured out the fat percentage, you need to decide what type of fat you want to mix with the venison.
The two main choices are beef fat and pork fat, I’m partial to pork fat.
The fat should be put in the freezer along with the trimmed venison before grinding.
Setting up the Grinder
Setting up the grinder for grinding venison is relatively simple.
The grinder is made up of 7 parts:
- The main unit which houses the motor
- The spout where the venison goes in (good to put in freezer with trimmed meat.
- The tray to hold the venison before it goes in the spout
- The spiral mechanism to move the version through the spout
- The blade that will chop the venison
- The plate that the chopped meat is pushed through
- A threaded retaining ring to hold everything in
The biggest decision you have to make is what size plate to use.
I typically use medium-sized holes or large holes for most ground venison dishes.
Both of these sizes are a good choice for sausages and burgers.
Often for sausages, I will grind through the large holes first and regrind through the medium hole plate.
I use a large hole plate for venison chili if I’m looking for a rustic feel to the dish.
Now that you have the meat trimmed, cut to size, and chilled you are ready to grind.
Put the machine together.
Place some meat in the spout and turn on your machine.
To ensure an even grind you have to control the ratio of fat to venison.
This step is best done during the grinding process and not later.
Grind the venison into a chilled bowl if possible. A good idea is to have the catch bowl sitting in a bowl of ice.
What to Make With Ground Venison
While this is a brief overview of how to grind venison much of the process depends on your recipe.
Some recipes will call for grinding venison twice, while for others you may not be using any fat.
Some recipes like venison sausage you have to focus more on keeping everything chilled.
However, for dishes like sloppy joes, this is not so important.