Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wild Game Butchering Classes?


Terrance of Seattle, WA wrote in:

I would very much like to hang out/learn from some "pros" how to properly butcher deer (maybe other game). Are you aware of any schools/courses (hands-on) that are available?




Hello Terrance!

I can honestly tell you that there's so much useless knowledge about meat processing stuffed up inside my head, you would go crazy listening to it all. I'm just kidding ya! 

With that being said, the next best thing would be the instructional DVD series that I produce. The Game Processing library has 4 discs in it, plus a 2 hour bonus hunting DVD! 9 hours of knowledge that is step by step, in detail with extreme close up video to match it all up. Each DVD has chapter menus, so you can watch each section as many times as you would like. I have a saying that goes like this: After you watch these DVDs, if you can't process game like a pro - take up knitting!

All joking aside, the closest thing to the DVDs are the 2-hour short courses I do at various events like the NRA National Show and other local events. The DVDs are a great resource that you can watch over and over again. More knowledge than I can share in any email or blog post.

Good luck this season!

- Brad Lockwood, Love of the Hunt TV


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Proper Hanging Time for Wild Game Quarters



Warren from Alberta, CA asked:

Hi Brad,

I purchased the complete set of your DVDs. I understand what you are saying about the 3 day per 100 pounds.

My question then is: If you harvest a 400 lb moose. You quarter it. Then you are hanging roughly 100 pound quarters.

Is the proper hanging time 12 days or 3 days for each quarter?




Warren that's a very good question and I thank you!

Yes, you will age 12 days for a 400lb moose. The only issue you're going to run into with the quarters is going to be waste. When you quarter the animal, which I realize is the only way to get one out of the field, you create a lot of exposed surface area. That surface area is going to dry out and get dark. But after you trim it off, the meat under will be tender as velvet!

Thanks for the great question and enjoy the moose meat, it's my favorite!

-Brad

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Custom Sausage Making




Jackie from Quitman, GA asked:
I am wanting to make a combo sausage using deer and rabbit. My question for you is: What fat trimmings should I use and how what is the lbs to lbs ratio. I'm big fan of the blog! Watch you from Youtube!




Thanks for the question Jackie!

That's a very interesting product! I'd love to try that someday.

The rule that I apply concerning what type of fat to use is based upon what product I'm trying to duplicate. For example, if I'm making a summer sausage which is traditionally a beef product I will mix beef trim or beef fat in with my game meat. If I'm making Kielbasa or Bratwurst which is typically a pork based product, I will add pork back fat or pork butt trimmings.

It sounds like you're making a basic sausage product, which would traditionally be a pork based product, so I would use pork back fat or pork butt trimmings.

A desirable fat to lean ratio is typically 80/20. If you trim your game meat lean, which you should, and dispose of all that off-flavored wild game fat, you will have a very lean product. That's why we love game meat so much, right?! It's lean and healthy!

After the fat is trimmed, you should have a 95-98% lean product, so if you want an 80/20 (80% lean and 20% fat) blend then you would need to add 1.5 lbs of pure back fat with 8.5lbs of good lean trim for a 10 lb batch.

Be careful using pure back fat. If you add a little too much it can be a lot! If you don't add enough, you'll never notice that it's even in the product. Pure fat can be a little tricky. It's generally not expensive to get, but it can be touchy when adding enough or not enough.

Now, when using pork butt trimmings, you will also have some lean pork in there, so the window of too much or not enough increases. You can use 3 lbs of pork butt trimmings and 7 lbs of game meat for each 10 lb batch. You have a much larger window of error. Next, mix your seasonings and a little water to blend the seasonings - and you're ready to grind!!

Good luck and thanks for the great question!

Brad Lockwood

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thickness and Timing for Perfect Jerky

This is a thicker, 1/4" sliced jerky


Paul Eckert of Jasper, IN wrote in:

Brad,
I am a disabled vet that spends alot of my time hunting and fishing. I love to make deer jerky, but have had problems with some jerky getting done to hard and some not all the way. I use a dehydrator for making jerky. I have since bought a cheaper meat slicer to get exact cuts. What thickness do you recommend when cutting the meat for a dehydrator? How long do you recommend dehydrating?


Thinner, 1/8th-inch sliced jerky


Great Question Paul,

You're on the right track by purchasing a meat slicer! That will give you a more consistent thickness on your strips. A jerky slicer is even better because it's already gauged to the proper thickness, so you don't have to turn a knob to set the thickness. When you have different thicknesses, thin strips will be overcooked and thick strips will be undercooked, so you're on the right track. Thickness depends on your own personal preference. I'd say 3/16 - 1/8th of an inch is good for a dehydrator. I wouldn't go any thicker than that in a dehydrator because of the low drying temperature.

Now for the rest of your question. You're also on the correct track: the amount of meat you place in the dehydrator is going to change the length of time you dry for. More meat equals longer drying times. With that being said, I hope you can see that making the same size batches every time is just as important as slicing the strips at the same thickness. It all works together, adding the seasonings to the correct poundage of meat, slicing the same thickness and drying according to the amount of product loaded into the smoker or dehydrator.

I really can't give you an exact drying time because the time will vary according to the amount of meat placed into the dehydrator or smoker. My method for checking my finished jerky product is a two step process. First I squeeze the jerky to be sure I no longer feel that "sponge texture" to the meat, however I still like to be able to flex and bend the jerky strip without it breaking, If it breaks, it's too dry, and if it still feels "spongy," then I have raw spots in the center of the strip. I then log the amount of time I dried the product and now I have a formula for the next batch!

I hope this helps and remember it's all about consistency - in thickness, seasoning, batch size and drying time. Be consistent and you will be making jerky like a pro!

Thanks for the question Paul!


Friday, February 21, 2014

How Do I Make Dry Chipped Venison?

Dave from Elk Ridge, MD asked:

Wanting to make dried chipped venison, just like dried chipped beef you would buy in the store. Any idea how I would go about it? Remember the stuff in the store is paper-thin.


Hello Dave!

I have two words for you... Mastering Marination! This DVD that I have produced makes that exact product! I'll do my best to describe it here, but I still highly recommend that DVD as it will be much easier to follow.
The method I use follows: 

1. Inject and brine your venison ham with the bone in. I use Hi Mountain's BuckBoard Bacon brine, and cut it with some brown sugar to sweeten it up a bit. I have a specific pattern that I use to inject that covers each primary muscle inch by inch, top round, then bottom round and onto the sirloin tip. 

2. After injecting, I then create a 50/50 brine using the remaining brine and water, I cover the product and soak for 5-6 days. 

3. My next step is to pull the bone and seam the product into the individual muscles. 

4. This next step is rather fun! I macerate the surface of all the muscles. To do this, I take my knife and create a cube steak looking surface. This will help the product bind and knit together.

5. I then take a 50/50 blend of salt and sugar and gently sprinkle the surface of the meat, like seasoning a steak. 

6. Next, rub the surface of the meat vigorously with the palm of your hand until you see the white protein beginning to rise to the surface. The surface will begin to get a paste feeling to it - this protein will bind the product when smoking. 

7. Place the sections of meat back together and press into a cotton ham sock. I pack it as tightly as I can, pressing out as many air pockets as possible. Then I take cotton butcher twine and tie strings around it like I'm preparing a rump roast. This process will really hold the product together tightly. 

8. Now you're ready to smoke. I usually smoke for 2 hours and then begin increasing the house temperature until I reach an internal temperature of 156F, which is fully cooked. 

9. Cool the product, remove the netting, and chip very thin using a Weston Electric Meat Slicer.


This is not an easy product to make, so I would highly recommend getting the Mastering Marination DVD before taking a stab at it. The DVD does a great job showing this step by step process. Don't mess up an entire hind quarter trying it. Spend the few bucks and get the DVD  - you'll be happy you did.

Good luck and thanks for the great question!

Brad Lockwood, Love of the Hunt TV host



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How Do I Make My Own Venison Burgers?

Sonny from Baker, FL wrote:

I usually take my deer meat to get it processed, but this year I wanted to do it myself to save money. What steps do I take to just make deer burger. I usually get it 60/40.



Sonny,

Processing your own game can be fun, easy and very rewarding! To do it right, it does take a little knowledge. I would recommend our Deer and Big Game Processing Volume 1 DVD. This video will take you step by step from field dressing meat animals & trophy animals, to skinning meat animals and preparing the cape on trophy animals, aging your game animals, quartering them, de-boning each and every quarter and then defining what every primary muscle is best used for! It also covers basic grinding and packaging. This video is must have for every hunter, beginner to advanced.

To answer and explain some basic grinding questions, here is a start for you! For one thing, you'll need a Meat Grinder. I only use Weston Meat Grinders - you can rely on them to get the job done and they have a whole range of different price points and sizes. They also already come with the plate that you need for making burgers. You'll just weigh everything, cube up your deer meat, cube up the fat, and then run them through your grinder. That's all you'll need to do to get ground deer meat for burgers.

As for ratio, I really have to recommend an 80/20 blend of fat to lean ratio, or you can go slightly leaner to a 85% lean and 15% fat ratio. This is going to give you a good frying burger that will be nice and juicy and hold together on the grill.

Now, if you go to a mix of ground beef mixed with venison meat you can go to a higher ratio, however you may start to lose the fact that it's actual wild game meat. My favorite blend is 8lbs of game meat and 2lbs of 50/50 blend beef. This is just a fatty beef mix generally taken from beef ribs. It adds a lot of good fat for flavor, but also adds good lean beef as well.

Oftentimes, when you mix straight fat, you can end up with too much fat. So when I mix straight fat, I always blend 9 lbs of good lean game meat to every one pound of straight fat. Dice the fat small so when you grind it, it will blend in well.

Good luck and be sure to take a look at the DVD. It will really be a big help. Thanks for the question!

Brad Lockwood


Friday, February 7, 2014

Where to get Grinder Plates & Knives Resurfaced and Sharpened

Chuck from Benton, AK wrote:

Eventually, grinder plates need to be resurfaced and rotor blades need to be replaced. Who would you recommend to do this?


Hello Chuck,

Thanks for the question! To tell you the truth, Chuck, this has become a thing of the past. Back in the day with our large commercial grinders, we would mail plates and knives in and have them resurfaced. But now, with consumer grinders, it's really difficult. The costs of plates and knives are nowadays so reasonable that you will spend more money on the shipping and in having them ground down, than you would have if you just bought new ones. 

The second issue is: When consumer grinders are made, the tolerances on the grinders are so close that if you grind any surface off the grinder plate, the collar that tightens the head will no longer press the plate back against the blade tight enough to grind properly. Sure, if you put a small lock washer behind the grinder knife, you can shim it out a little and still get the collar tight - and it will work - but it's not how the machine is designed to operate.


Here's a little trick I always use: When I receive my new plates, I always purchase 2 new blades for every new plate. I take a dremel tool and engrave a 1 on one side of my plate. Once I notice my grinder not grinding properly, I then turn the plate over to the fresh new side and change the blade. Now I basically have a brand new set of tools ready to go. If you don't label the sides of your grinder plate it gets flipped to one side, then the other and then back and forth and so you can't remember which side has been used the most. Then frustration sets in. Label the sides of your plate and use that side with the same knife until the plate is worn down on that side and then flip the plate over and change the blade.

I get all of my meat grinder plates and knives here: The Hunter's Butcher Shop


Thanks for the question Chuck,

Brad Lockwood