It wasn’t until I listened to Camas Davis of the Portland Meat Collective (www.pdxmeat.com) talk about how neck meat is one of her favorite parts of an animal, that I realized I may be missing something by always adding all that meat to my burger bowl.
To see how easy cooking up venison neck is, see this clip from The Sporting Chef.
With the high volume of game meat we get every year, we do all our own butchering. We are not professional butchers and most of our knowledge and skill comes from trial and error. Pulling muscles apart, cleaning silverskin and unwanted fat, packaging roasts, steaks, tenderloins and backstraps is about it. If the cut is too small for a roast, it may be steaked or cubed; if it is too small for that it goes in the jerky pile and even smaller chunks go in the grinder for burger.
When it comes to neck meat, we all groan a bit because it is the most tedious part to “clean up.” There is a lot of fat and fibrous tissue so it takes a lot of effort to get every scrap of meat separated out. (We used to feel this way about rib meat until we just started slow cooking/roasting the ribs – sooo good and so fun to eat giant ribs!)
This season when both my son and I took rutting mule deer with our bows, I was most excited about trying something different with the neck meat. Something easy… Could it be true? Could this really be the best meat on the deer? I love a good experiment but I also NEVER underestimate the possibility of failure, especially when dealing with any animal killed in the rut.
If I was going to fail, I was going for the big fail. I chose Braxton’s deer because it seemed to be more “rutty” than mine and it also hadn’t aged as long. My deer got 5 days of hanging in ideal temperatures, his only had 2 days but had been deboned before packing out (the neck meat was filleted off the bone with all visible glands removed). Neither deer smelled rutty but they were both obviously in the rut as evidenced by their behavior with does and their swollen necks.
Oh, the anticipation as the meat was slow-cooking away… it smelled amazing. Five hours later we all declared neck meat among our favorite cuts. Success!
Slow Cooked Venison Neck
- 7-9# venison neck
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups beef broth or 1 14.5-oz can
- 1/2 cup cream sherry or red wine
- 1/3 cup minced garlic
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- Salt & pepper to taste
Clean neck, rinse and pat dry. Salt & pepper generously. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or as shown here, in a Ninja Cooking System. Brown neck on all sides. Place meat in crock-pot and add remaining ingredients. Slow cook on high heat 4-5 hours or until meat is tender. Some of the meat can be sliced and eaten right away. There is still a bit of work to do, getting the meat off of the fibrous tissues, but it’s much like cleaning up a game bird carcass. It’s worth the effort as this tender, flavorful, moist meat can be added to anything. There’s a lot of meat on a neck; we used it for Vietnamese Pho, Biscuits & Gravy, Sandwich filling (just chop fine, mix with mayo and relish) and quesadilla filling.
My opinion of neck meat has changed. From now on, instead of dreading butchering it, we will delight in slow cooking this delicious cut.
For more recipes and tips on cooking big game, please check out our book: