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Where’s the Beef??

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So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. All the beef recipes that I posted? Yeah, well……they weren’t made with beef in our house. Okay, there! Whew! I feel so much better. Confession is good for the soul. Barry is a deer hunter, so I always have a good stock of venison in my freezer. Yum! I grew up eating it, even though my daddy is a cattle farmer, so it’s what I am accustomed to. I use ground beef if I know someone who is coming to dinner would throw their meal up if they found out what it was. Or, if the president of PETA was coming to dinner I’d probably use beef. Oh wait….that’s not right either. Tofu?
When I read a recipe that calls for ground beef, I automatically substitute venison in my head…..unless, like I said PETA is coming to dinner. I’ve heard several people say “Ew! I’ve had venison before and it tasted like butt!” Well, you’ve obviously not had MY venison dishes. You seriously cannot tell the difference in beef and venison when I cook it. Our family gets the deer processed with a family friend who uses beef fat in the venison…….that helps get rid of the gamey taste. Why do they do it? Venison is too lean without it – it would cook up like rubber. Rubber Chili. No thanks. Rubber snake – yes. Rubber Chili – no.
Now, I know most of you are skeptical. Don’t be. When I got married, Barry’s mama swore up one side and down another that she HATED venison. I started cooking dishes with venison and I never told her……but I told my father-in-law. He’s good at keeping secrets. She would compliment my cooking like crazy. “Honey, this is the BEST spaghetti sauce I’ve EVER had!” Well, thank  you. :-) Finally, one day when she was going on and on about my hot dog chili, Barry’s dad said “I know what would make it better. If it was cooked with venison instead.” Then the whole family busted out laughing. The joke was on her. Ha, ha! She’s a good sport……and she loves my venison dishes.
So, if you’ve had bad venison then it’s ruined your experience. Give it another chance. Try having some beef fat added to it. Also, when you cook it make sure to drain the fat and rinse the meat. If there is any gamey taste left, that will certainly help. This mainly is only with ground venison. If you have venison steak, it is going to certainly taste gamey…..but not in a bad way if it’s cooked correctly and marinated.
Venison isn’t the only thing you can substitute for ground beef. You can also use turkey. Barry and I LOVE turkey burgers. I buy ground turkey regularly and try to keep it in the freezer. My friend Kim said she made turkey meatloaf one time and they all ran screaming from the kitchen. I told her she should give it a try again….but I don’t think her husband is aboard that train. Our household loves turkey meatloaf – especially with spinach. We also use a good deal of ground chicken in place of beef. Keep an eye out at Kroger and Food Lion. You’ll see chicken and turkey marked down regularly. I buy several packs then and come home to freeze it.  I also like using soy crumbles in place of beef, but Barry is not as big of a fan as I am….but he’ll eat it. He loves me.

Oh, and I like I said….you could use tofu if PETA was coming. But I’m quite sure PETA wouldn’t set foot in this house. I mean, we like bacon.

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. Stacy,

    Thanks for giving a great reality check on venison. It’s a tasty and versatile meat that most people don’t appreciate. Most of the time bad game meat is a result of poor meat preparation or butchering. It is really important to understand what one must do with an animial if one chooses ot hunt an animal. I grew up on venison and enjoy cooking with it and really enjoy eating it. Elk is my favorite red meat!

  2. Jason didn’t get a deer last year. I told him if he didn’t get one this year, he couldn’t come home haha! We process our own meat and I have a meat grinder. I might have to see if I can just buy beef fat somewhere. I had been mixing it with 80/20 hamburger, and it does great! This post made me love you just a little bit more lol!

    • You might contact Cregger’s Meat Processing in Rural Retreat and see if they can get you some beef fat….they do all our processing.

  3. There’s nothing wrong with some good ole “deer meat”, although if you’d have mentioned venison in our house no one would know what you were talking…I love it in just about anything, breaded and fried, jerkied, stews, soups, burgers….Yum! Too bad Ted isn’t a hunter.

  4. Stacy, could I get that recipe for your venison hot dog chili? That’s one thing I can never seem to make…a truly GOOD hot dog chili and I hate the chilis out of a can 😛 yuck! :)

    • Cynthia, sorry it took me a while to get back to you – I was out of town and didn’t have the recipe. :-) I’m working on a hot dog chili recipe for the crock pot, but for now this is the one I’m using from a dear friend: 3 pounds ground venison, 1 pound ground sausage, 1 large onion. Brown the ingredients. Drain. Add 2 cups ketchup, 3 tablespoons chili powder and 2 cups water. Simmer for a few hours to let flavors blend. :-)

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