By Chef Vicky Mullaney
The Saturday after Thanksgiving Maryland’s waterfowl season is interrupted for a two-week rifle season. Waders are replaced by Mossy Oak coveralls; duck guns are swapped out for deer hunting firearms; and, in the pitch dark of morning, hunters follow the trails of bright eyes to their designated tree stand or deer blind. For our family Thanksgiving has always been about the four Fs: family, food, friends, football -- and deer hunting. It’s a time to be grateful for all our many blessings and a time to share our good fortune with others – and get those huge bucks! They’ve been posing for our deer cams for weeks and, thanks to the time stamps we have on each mug shot, we know their routines. Well, we think we do. I’m starting to believe that they peruse the Maryland Hunting and Trapping Guide to see when we’ll be in the woods. Uncanny, isn’t it? Thankfully, rifle season runs through December 11th, muzzleloader through January 1st, and bow until January 31st. We’ll have time to fill our freezer with healthy meat that we harvested and processed ourselves.
Over the years my sons and I have developed a streamlined processing system and it’s part of every successful hunt. How the deer is handled post hunt determines the quality of the meat and success for the chef. As Chef Albert Wutsch states in his cooking seminars, “You must have quality on the cutting board to achieve quality on the plate.” This begins in the field. For the hunter, it’s been an early morning and long day sitting in a stand, but the hunt isn’t over when the deer drops.
Timely field dressing and proper refrigeration are key to delicious and nutritious meat, especially in warmer temperatures. Most of us do not have a walk-in refrigerator that can accommodate hanging deer to dry age the meat for a week or two. We must remove the meat and package it to fit into coolers or a refrigerator. If temperatures are below 38 degrees we will hang our gutted deer from a gambrel for several days, leaving the skin intact to keep the meat from drying out. If it’s not cold enough to hang the deer, we process it immediately using a vacuum sealer. The packages are placed in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days to wet age the meat before freezing. We’ve discovered that it’s better to leave the silver skin on the meat when freezing it, as it protects the meat and, once thawed, it peels right off. I freeze whole haunches, shanks and roasts and cut them for particular recipes after they are removed from the freezer. This way I have more options when it comes to preparing and creating new recipes.
I’m sharing one of our favorite hors d’oeuvre recipes for holiday entertaining from my book. The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made the day before your company arrives.
Vicky's cookbook, "Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook" will be given away soon! Check out our social media feeds this week for details!
Sika or Whitetail Tenderloin Rolls
Serves 18 to 24
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon finely minced green pepper
1 tablespoon minced green onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 pounds tenderloin, rubbed with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
And grilled until 130 degrees F in the thickest part of the meat
Slice cooled tenderloin very thin.
Combine the remaining ingredients and spread a thin layer onto each slice of meat. Roll up tightly. Secure with a toothpick. Place rolls in a storage container and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Vicky Mullaney is a Huntress View team member and chef from Maryland who is passionate about getting more women involved in hunting. She has 33 years experience of cooking wild game recipes and created The Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook to present her recipes and tips for ducks, shrimp, venison, oysters, goose breasts, blue crabs, rockfish, breads, and pies.