If you have joined us for one of our wonderful Beast days recently you might have been a bit overwhelmed by all the information. We thought we would use some pictures from an autumnal staff training day to jog your memory and refresh your minds about some of the essentials. If you haven't been on one and rather fancy it for a Stag Do then have a look here and please get in touch.
You will NEED sharp knives...Start with a water stone:
Finish your edge with a steel
Or strop When hanging the deer make sure to leave enough space around, and underneath, the carcass to work easily About Our Deer The deer we use are shot in the Purbecks (less than 5 miles from Land & Wave HQ) by local Stalkers up to a week before we butcher them.
Stage one - SkinningThe photos and description below show how I choose to skin the deer to preserve as much of the hide as possible, this method takes a little more effort but I think it's worth it. The first cuts are really easy, use a tripe (blunt tip) knife to cut along the front of each back leg from cavity to 'ankle'. This is a nice intuitive cut when you have a carcass in front of you and once you've seen it done it's dead easy to remember.
The next cuts are along the front of each front leg finishing at the wrist, make life easy by using your fingers to loosen the hide as far as the inside of the 'elbow' and use that point to guide the start of your cut.
Get to work loosening the hide, use the flat of your hand a closed fist to push the skin from the carcass, be firm but gentle. The hide should be separated from the carcass as much as possible before you try for the 'grand finale'. There should be no need to use a knife during this stage.
Pull the hide down and off of the carcass in one go, be firm, get lots of hands in to help you,.
Once the hide is off in one glorious piece cover it in salt and save it for later.
Part Two - Butchering the CarcassRemove the front legs first; this is the same joint as a 'shoulder of lamb', there's lots of connective tissue and small separated muscles which means this joint is best wet roasted 'low and slow' or cut into big ol chunks of stewing meat
The loins are next; wonderful meat for steaks or venison wellington, you'll need to super careful - it's easy to lose meat with over zealous use of a blade. Carefully run the belly of the knife down the spine to open up enough of a gap to slide your fingers in and separate the loins from the rib cage, you should be able to use your fingers to entirely remove each loin. Trim out the belly flesh to prepare to separate the carcass from the haunches; this is great sausage meat - put it to one side and save it for a later.
Separate the haunches from the rest of the carcass with a single mighty blow, the correct facial expression is essential to achieve a blow with the necessary accuracy and force.
Separate the haunches with yet another mighty blow; again the correct facial expressions from all involved are essential.
Always make time for a quick 'deer jigsaw' to make sure your not missing anything!
The loins are some of the best cuts, they can be made even better by removing the connective tissue (silver skin) from the back of the cut; don't rush anything - be gentle, take your time, use your fingers, knife and chopping board to put pressure on the joint to make the job as easy as possible
The haunches are made up lots of big muscles which are great steak cuts when separated and trimmed; use your knife as little as possible, you'll be able to use your fingers to separate the muscles. Remember
- Use the white lines visible on the outside of the haunch to guide you
- Use your fingers to separate the individual muscles
- Only use you knife to cut the connective tissue at the ends of each muscle
Part Three- Cooking and CarvingSTEAKS! Season the meat with salt and pepper, don't be shy with either but remember you can always add more later.
When cooking meat in the great outdoors prepare your fire in advance; have a good bed of embers a 'hot' area for searing and a cooler area for resting and slower cooking.
Carve across the grain of the steak cuts, this will make each mouthful more tender and wonderful to devour; use fingers to eat with - it makes the experience even better! Enjoy the experience, order yourself a deer from a local game dealer or stalker, phone some mates, open a beer and get involved. See you in the woods. Charge on! Owen