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Venison

The clean, healthy red meat

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Venison, grilled chop
Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Venison usually refers to Deer meat, but if can also mean meat from any large game animal including Elk, Moose, Caribou, and Antelope. This meat may be a little hard to find if you don't do your own hunting, but increasing can be found online or available through specialty markets. Because it is so much lower in fat and cholesterol, it has become a favorite of health conscious individuals, including those on restrictive diets.

Healthier: Venison is not only low in fat and cholesterol, but high in vital nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and phosphorus. Like any non-farm produced animal, Venison is resistant to disease and does not live on a diet of antibiotics and steroids. Many people stay away because they believe the flavor is too strong, venison actually has a wonderful woody, almost fruity flavor that is truly fantastic. Don't compare it to beef, because there is no comparison in flavor, though the texture is similar. One word of warning though, If you are prone to "gout" you should eat venison in moderation. Venison meat contains purines which can cause gout flare-ups.

Preparation: Venison has such a wonderful flavor that it doesn't take much to make it great on the grill. While you can marinate and season venison, it doesn't need much in the way of extra flavor. Since venison is so low in fat, marinate it in an oil based marinade to give it extra moisture.

Grilling: Venison is quite lean, so avoid overcooking it or you will end up with a dried out piece of meat. The grill is the perfect place to cook venison because of the high, intense heat that allows for quick cooking times. Because of the low fat content, venison can stick to your grill so brush it light with oil before it hits the hot cooking surface. Venison does not need to be cooked to the same high temperatures as beef and should only be cooked to about 145 degrees F. This type of meat is great in hamburgers, but you need to watch the cooking time. While most people haven't seen a medium rare burger in decades, it is important not to over cook ground venison or you'll end up with a crunchy char-burger.

Smoking: Low and slow smoking works great with venison, but again you need to compensate for the lack of fat. This is typically done by seasoning the venison roast and then wrapping it in bacon. The bacon with maintain the moisture of the meat while it smokes. Make sure there are spaces between the bacon to let the smoke reach the meat. Venison also makes great jerky.

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