With its forested foothills, Missouri is one of the best spots in America for avid deer-hunters. Every autumn, many Missourians don the camouflage and climb up to their tree stands to wait for trophy bucks to cross their paths. When one does, a successful hunter gets not only a nice set of antlers to mount on the wall but also pounds upon pounds of venison—lean and arguably a little gamy, but the special kind of treat you simply can’t buy at the grocery store.
Once they have the venison, even hunters who have equipped their basement or garage with an extra freezer often ask: Now what? We know venison can be a fine replacement for beef, but you can’t just eat venison steaks and burgers day after day. So let’s get creative. Here are some other ways you can substitute venison for beef—eating healthily while staying interesting.
Back in Budapest, goulash is a fiery dish that captures the Hungarian people’s love for paprika. In Middle America, however, goulash is something a little different: a comfy stew of tomatoes, ground beef, and pasta—usually good old elbow macaroni—that sticks to your ribs on chillier Missouri evenings. It’s easy to sub out one ground meat for another and give this Americanized dish another rustic spin.
Whether you’re stocking up on protein for a long hike, enjoying a chewy snack on a road trip, or just idly snacking during work-from-home life, beef jerky is an ever-popular choice. Quit buying those bags from the gas station—even for a product that’s meant to keep well, you don’t know how long those have been waiting there. Set aside some venison to preserve and make your own jerky at home. You’ll avoid those notorious gas station markups, too.
There’s a lot to love about how healthy venison can be as an alternative to beef. There is a downside to this leanest of lean meats, however: with its lack of marbled fat, it’s considerably more prone to drying out. If you’re not making jerky, this means you’ll have to take special care to keep the meat moist. One of the best ways to do so is to incorporate venison into recipes that are generous with the sauces. This means adaptations of Mexican fare—such as taco casseroles and enchilada casseroles, with their reliance on salsa and enchilada sauce—are perfect ways you can substitute venison for beef. Tex-Mex? With deer from the Ozarks, it’s more like Mo-Mex.