Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Easy Fried Venison Chops
I remember learning to fry venison in college. No, it wasn’t a class. Wish it was – I would have actually attended. I always had plenty of deer meat but little in the way of cooking experience, especially frying. As with other aspects of collegiate life I was inadequately prepared for, I blame my parents. My mother rarely fried foods, I guess, caring for our hearts more than our appetites. The backstraps and tenderloins were left whole to grill, and the rest was generally converted to ground venison for tacos, spaghetti, and the like. So, frying venison chops in the apartment was an exciting proposal.
And the fire alarms were exciting as I invariably filled the room to the brim with smoke. See, somehow, I had it in my mind that the proper way of frying anything was to heat the oil on the stove at the highest setting. Made the oil hotter faster, why not? The chops were always over-cooked coated in singed breadcrumbs. Delicious when covered with enough BBQ sauce and after several adult libations.
Luckily, these meals never ended in fire trucks and smoke inhalation trips to Shands. Turns out I became a whole lot smarter after I left college than when I was enrolled there, and I slowed my act down. It seems one can fry foods without a rolling plume of smoke emanating from the stovetop.
I bring this up, not only to satisfy my insatiable need to ramble and relay inane stories, but also to pass this knowledge around to others who may be in similar straits. The Internet was very much in its infancy then. I searched and surfed for recipes and help but found little. Recipes I did find took it for granted that any Joe Shmoe knew what they were doing in the kitchen.
The key elements to fried venison are a cast iron pan, canola oil, and medium-high heat. With this combination, you can fry just about any cut of venison. But for today’s purpose, I want to stick with fried venison backstrap chops.
In the field, leave the backstraps and tenderloins attached to the backbone and have your butcher cut bone-in chops about an inch thick. You can, of course, make boneless chops on your own; I like the little handle of bone to eat without a fork and knife like a savage.
In the kitchen, pour oil in the skillet until it’s about an inch deep. The oil will shimmer when it is ready. If you have any doubts, take a few fingertips of breading and flick it in the pan. It should immediately bubble and cook on the surface, and as they say, you’re now cooking with grease. If you're the anal type, though, use a thermometer to gauge when you hit the optimal temperature of 360-370 degrees.
Defrost your chops – talk about a mess if you don’t – and soak in icy cold water for 30 minutes or so to remove blood and gamey tastes, if you’re concerned about such things. Trim any fat or sinew away from the meat. Pat dry and press into Vigo Italian Breadcrumbs.
Place the breaded chops in the hot oil until browned on both sides for medium-rare to medium and remove to a paper towel-lined plate. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Nothing wrong with A-1 or a Mustard-Style BBQ sauce for dipping.
It’s not all that hard and is delicious. I’m a constant advocate for trying new things when cooking venison. If you’ve not tried frying a batch, you are missing out.
And remember, always put out grease fires with salt or an extinguisher. Never use water. Or adult libations.