Friday, March 6, 2015

How Much Trimming Is Too Much?

Jon Lindner of McArthur Ohio asked:

I just watched your TV show where you smoked a ham from the rear quarter to make some lunch meat. When you took it out of the cooler after aging you "trimmed" it - but the video showed what you trimmed, and it still had quite a bit of silver membrane on it. I have been processing my own deer for 8 years, and have always trimmed ALL the silver skin off - even what goes to the grinder. takes forever, and I feel like I waste a lot of meat. Every piece of meat that goes to our freezer or grinder is completely free of any fat or silver skin. I have done this because I believe deer fat and silver skin leave a "wild" flavor. Am I overdoing it? Will leaving some silver skin give a wild flavor - even on steaks and stew meat? I have all your DVDs - I don't remember you addressing this specific question. Thanks!

Thanks for the question Jim,

You are exactly right on the fat! Trim all the fat that you possibly can. Wild game fat does not store the oils in the same fashion that domestic animals such as beef, pork and lamb do. Wild Game fat has an undesirable flavor and an equally nasty texture to it.

Now the silver skin, or connective tissue, that's a different story. You're not going to notice an off flavor from the silver skin, just a really bad texture and no one likes a bunch of chewy gristle in their hamburger, roast or steaks. We have a saying in the meat industry called "Trim the Heavy." What this means is: if it's heavy gristle trim it out! The reason we use this method is for the exact reason that you're noticing. If you try to trim every little bite, you end up losing a lot of good meat in the process!

So with that being said, "Trim the Heavy" and let the grinder handle the rest. You can only do so much. When I say let the grinder handle the rest I mean: Weston Grinders do a great job of separating the silver skin when grinding. What happens is: the gaps in the grinder blade allow the gristle to wrap around the blade and not go out through the grinder plate and into your finished product. One downside is that you'll have to take the head apart if the grinder starts slowing down on the grind and remove any gristle from around the knife, reassemble the head and start grinding again.

Now, fat, on the other hand, can be much easier to deal with than gristle and silver skin. So I do my very best to trim all the fat possible. You can use a good boning knife and remove the fat much easier with less waste than gristle.

Thanks for the question and good luck this season!

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