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Immediately after the hunter has made certain that the deer is actually dead, he should sever the jugular vein and elevate the hind quarter to make certain that the deer is bled. Naturally, if he has made a heart shot with a .30-06, bleeding will not be necessary.
Second, cut open the abdomen, remove the organs and intestines — and the trachea. This has two purposes. One, to remove any bacteria bearing organs and second, to open the cavity for faster cooling. The competent hunter will deposit the tongue, liver and heart in plastic bags which he has wisely brought. True gourmets will also clean and retain the stomach for tripe to use in Pepper Pot Stew or Menudo and the kidneys as well. At this time, cut out any blood clots and, if the stomach or intestines were penetrated, any meat tainted with fecal matter— for the whole path of the bullet. The cavity should be propped open to allow air to circulate. If there is snow, fill the cavity with it. (Note: Persons with sores or cuts should wear rubber gloves.)
Next step is to skin the animal. If the carcass is warm, the skin can be separated easily by running the hands under the hide, otherwise, a sharp knife is essential. Be extremely careful to get no more hairs on the carcass than is unavoidable. Once a hair is on the flesh, it seems to turn invisible and multiply. There will be hairs! Therefore, every time you handle the meat, afterwards, look for hairs. Hairs contain strong odors and will ruin the taste of meat all around.
Ideally, at this time, the next step would be to cover the carcass, cool it and transport it quickly to a meat locker where it could be aged, under proper conditions for 2-3 weeks. This makes the meat much more tender and enhances the taste. As a precaution, mark your carcass with indelible ink!!! You don’t want it switched for the one that has been hauled around on the pickup.
If you don’t have the opportunity to have the carcass aged, go ahead and cut it up. It is a good idea to immerse the primal cuts (large sections) in ice water to which salt has been added to chill them quickly. Meat to be frozen should be wrapped tightly in two individually sealed layers of butcher paper — expelling as much air as possible. Meat stored in plastic bags should have all the air expelled from the bag before sealing. Air oxidizes (reacts with) the meat which causes “freezer burns” and deteriorates the quality. Be sure to cool the meat down as much as possible before putting it into the freezer. Most home freezers cannot adequately handle such an overload and it will take much longer for the meat to freeze. This will cause larger ice crystals to form and the difference is noticeable.
If you don’t know how to cut up a food animal and really want to learn, call Merle “The Butcher” Ellis, at 415-383-6585, and see if he still has any copies of “Cutting Up in The Kitchen.” It is the best I have ever read on the subject and guaranteed to save you twice its price the next time you go on a meat buying trip.
While the meat is chilling in the ice is a good time to turn that tender, healthy liver into a delicious grilled treat.
Broiled Game Liver
Remove the liver/s from the ice water and trim the sinews and fat. As you remove the gall bladder, be sure not to burst it! Inspect for signs of damage or disease. Slice horizontally into strips about 1/4" thick and drop briefly into a mixture of milk, water and ice.
Mix 1 t. granulated onion, ½ t. granulated garlic, 1/4 t. ground bay leaf, 1 t. salt, ½ t. black pepper.
Fire up the grill for broiling — about 500 degrees and slice up some hearty bread.
Remove the slices from the ice water and blot dry. Sprinkle both sides with the seasoning mixture then rub well with an oil of your choice. Melted lard is my favorite.
When the grill is properly heated, throw the slices on the grill. Turn them as soon as they sear and remove when the second side sears. The sliced liver should be precisely done, but not overcooked. Without accompaniment, it makes a fine sandwich. Mustard, dill pickles and thinly sliced onions are options.
If liver is not on your menu, save out a rib chop, two if they are small, for each person for:
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Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.
'According to Smoky' is © by C. Clark Hale
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