Much like domestic beef, wild ungulates have many different muscle groups, each with their own best use. While it isn’t a disaster if the meat doesn’t come off the bone in perfectly separated muscle groups, it does degrade the quality of the meat somewhat. By not combining two muscle groups into one cut, you limit the amount of tough gristle and inconsistencies in tenderness. Pictured above are the main muscle groups found on most big-game animals. Sizes will vary, but shape and usage will be similar from species to species.
1. Rump or Top Sirloin – Use to make stew meat, jerky or grinds.
2. Sirloin Tip – An excellent muscle group for turning into a roast.
3. Bottom Round – Great for steaks,stew meat and fajita strips.
4. Eye of Round – Can be grilled whole, depending on the size of the animal, or cut into steak medallions.
5. Boned-Out Shank – Full of tough tendons and gristle, this is best turned into grinds.
6. Top Round – Makes excellent large steaks.
7. Backstrap and 8. Tenderloin are the tenderest, most-prized cuts. Tenderloins can be grilled whole, while backstraps are excellent when butterflied.
9. Flank – Best thrown in the grind pile.
10. Neck – Can be turned into a roast, especially on larger animals.
11. Ribs – On larger animals with more meat, you can grill the ribs or even make bone-in spare ribs. Don’t be scared to experiment.
12. Shoulder – Can be turned into stew meat or steaks.
13. Top blade – Kind of tough. Usually best for grinds.
14. Mock Tender – Again, kind of tough and usually best ground.
15. Bone-in shank– Leaving the bone in gives you some fun added options. You can cure it and grill it, like a turkey leg at a carnival, or braise it to create a moist, flavorful meal.
1. Low in fat
Based on USDA data, 1"-thick venison backstrap steaks – about 150 calories each – contain only 2.4 grams of fat.
2. Heart healthy
Not only is venison low in fat, the fat it does contain is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and thus, healthier to consume.
3. Complete protein
Venison contains all 10 essential amino acids, which our bodies need but cannot produce.
HOW TO BUTTERFLY A STEAK
To create butterfly steaks: 1) Put your knife 1/4" to 3/4" from the end of your backstrap. Then, cut 3/4" of the way through using a smooth rocking motion. 2) Now, move your knife over another 1/4" to 3/4" and cut all the way through the meat to the tabletop. 3) Pull the two sides away from each other (like you're opening a book), and lay the steak flat on the table. It should look like a butterfly.