How to Cook a Deer Leg
By Candi Johns
If you have some hunting enthusiasts in your home you probably have a deer or two (or more) in your freezer right now.
I didn’t learn how to cook venison until I moved out to the country. Don’t get me wrong, I could cook it. You just wouldn’t want to eat it. When I moved out here I learned so much about preparing and cooking venison.
Another thing I learned out here is that you can eat the front legs. Yup, those skinny front legs than many folks just toss to the side or leave for the coyotes. No only can you eat them, they might be my favorite part of the deer to eat.
If you are wondering why anyone would waste 2 legs from a perfectly good deer — it’s very difficult to get the meat off those skinny front legs. First, there’s the skinning. Then, there’s the silver seam (a tough connective tissue) that needs to be removed. Last, there’s getting the small amount of meat off that skinny leg. You can probably see why many folks give them to the coyotes.
The beauty of my recipe is that you don’t have to worry too much about the silver seam (in the long cooking period it will die) and you leave the meat on the bone. No worries! Just skin it and cook it. Or freeze it for later.
I’m going to show you how to cook a deer leg! You can cook any leg you would like. This recipe isn’t just for front legs.
To begin, you need a deer leg.
I hope that no one will care that my baking sheet is 20 years old and showing its age. Sorry.
I have a giant, granite roasting pan. It is not giant enough for a deer leg, so I am going to need to … um … shorten this leg.
Yes, that’s a saw. Yes, it’s clean.
No, it’s not a joke. I have to do this every time I cook a deer leg. Maybe my husband should try to shoot deer with shorter legs.
Great, the entire leg now fits in my roasting pan.
I am covering it with filtered water. I do mean covering it. You must have plenty of water. This will create such goodness for you to enjoy for weeks to come. I’ll explain later. Just don’t skimp on the water. As much as your pan can hold without spilling on its way to the oven — that’s how much you want.
Here’s all you need. Lard, Lawry’s seasoned salt, salt and pepper. That’s it. I render my own lard, from our pigs. If you don’t have fresh lard just use butter or olive oil. Deer meat is very lean, so you need to add some fat. Fat is flavor.
First, I salted the entire surface. Salt the deer leg, the water, the entire surface. Then do the same with the pepper. Then again with the Lawry’s.
Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake. Your wrist will be tired. Really season the heck out of it.
Next plop about 3 heaping tablespoons of your fat right into the pan.
Cover tightly with foil. Then cover with the lid. A tight seal is a must. If all your liquid boils out or steams out, your deer leg will be a horrible version of deer jerky. Tough, chewy, yucky deer jerky. We don’t want that.
After it is all tight and snug under the foil and lid, you are going to “cook it to death.”
This is a direct quote from Mamaw (the one who taught me how to cook a deer leg), “Cook it to death” and she is not kidding.
This guy is going to cook for 12-14 hours in a 270 degree oven. I have cooked a deer leg overnight. I have cooked deer legs all day long. Whatever floats your boat will work. It just has to cook 12-14 hours. When it comes out of its hibernation in your oven it will look like this:
Oh, so wonderful! The meat is fork tender, it is perfectly browned on top and falling off the bones.
You have so many options at this point. Venison roast with potatoes. Venison sandwiches on crusty toasted bread. Venison vegetable soup. Venison tacos. This is enough meat to make 3 meals and put some in the freezer too. I love when I can get 4 meals out of one dish.
Tonight, I am going to serve this just like it is with mashed potatoes, gravy & squash. YUM! I just thickened some of this wonderful bone broth with some flour and made a gravy.
That’s it. Deer leg perfection.
Fit leg into large roasting pan. Cover with water. Sprinkle entire surface of leg and water with Lawry’s, salt and pepper. Add 3 heaping tablespoons of lard (or butter or olive oil). Cover tightly (add water if needed during baking). Cook 270 degrees for 12-14 hours.
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