Tame The Gamey Taste Of Venison With A Simple Milk Soak

Venison is one of those divisive ingredients where you either love the unique taste, or you find it to be a bit challenging on your tastebuds. Venison is often said to have a gamey flavor, meaning it is a bit more earthy and bitter compared to other meats we often eat. The gamey taste of venison comes from the diet of the deer while alive, which consists mostly of things such as grass, acorns, sage, and other wild plants. The meat from deer will carry over these flavors, and result in a unique flavor experience. Sometimes this gamey flavor can be intense, and overpower your dish, but you can help alleviate the gameness of your meat by soaking your venison in milk.

Milk may seem like a random solution, but there is a scientific reason why it soaks help venison flavor. Milk contains the protein known as casein, which is attracted to fat molecules. When the casein binds to the fats in your meat, it holds on to them, sort of like a sponge.  All you need to achieve this is your milk of choice, a large container or bowl, and your cuts of meat. You can soak your meat overnight in a covered dish in the fridge for 12 hours. After your meat has soaked, be sure to rinse it off to further remove the gamey taste; the gamey flavor of venison is most intense in the fat so when you rinse off the milk, you essentially rinse off that taste as well. 

Other ways to tone down the gamey taste of venison

While venison is typically very lean, it still has slivers of fat in it. Making sure your meat is well trimmed and free of any larger fatty pieces will ensure a cleaner taste overall. Stewing the meat also helps to offset some of that intense flavoring. In this venison stew with Guinness and pickled walnuts, Guinness beer infuses the flavor of the meat to mask some of the intensity. Slow cooking also allows the meat to become more tender, and as muscle breaks down in the meat, a gelatin is released that provides a more savory flavor.

Because venison is lean, it's important to take caution while cooking it so that you don't dry the meat out. If the meat becomes too tough or dry, it can amplify the gamey flavors. Venison is safe to eat at an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, according to FoodSafety.gov. Using the temperature as a guide for cooking allows you to not overcook the meat and pull it off the heat before it becomes too tough.