Countering freezer burn with venison kabobs: Jack Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy gives a wonderful venison kabob recipe in “Braising the Wild,” but maybe more importantly gives insight on freezer-burned game.

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Venison kabobs in “Braising the Wild.”

Jack Hennessy

As always, Jack Hennessy comes through with a wonderful recipe for “Braising the Wild,’’ but maybe even more important this week may be his discussion and suggestions on freezer burn, a too common problem with too much wild game.

Here is his recipe:

COUNTERING FREEZER BURN WITH VENISON KABOBS I’ll spare you the gruesome details of how I was gifted a garbage bag full of venison, meat best described as grinding meat. There was no other packaging or wrapping other than the plastic draw cord tied tightly. Inside were small cubes of venison covered in frost, frozen together as one giant ruby-and-silver-skin block. It took me 6 hours to defrost in my sink with cold water refreshed every half hour. When thawed, I could see a thin layer of gray, much like the color of wet newspaper, covering most of the chunks. Freezer burn occurs when frozen food becomes subject to dehydration and oxidation (the result of food not being wrapped air-tight or frozen while still wet). The end product: varying depths and textures of dry, not-so-tasty meat. For serious freezer burn, when the meat almost feels like a callous and the gray discoloration is deep in the meat, I usually recommend cutting off that section and throwing it away. For mild freezer burn, as was the case here with year-old grinding meat in a garbage bag, a soak in some sort of marinade will remedy the situation just fine. This marinade pairs incredibly well with venison. I also soaked some pheasant in it, as a backup for my daughter, but she ultimately preferred the venison. As always, make sure to trim off any silver skin before marinating and do your best to cook the venison to medium rare (125 internal temp). Ingredients (make four servings): 20 ounces venison, non-loin cuts, cubed Medium red onion, chopped Green bell pepper, chopped Red bell pepper, chopped 8 ounces cherry tomatoes Kosher salt and black pepper (for vegetables) Marinade: 2 cups soy sauce 1 cup pure olive oil 1/2 cup organic honey (Firebee Spicy Honey, if you’d like some kick) 1/3 cup fresh garlic 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 cup fresh cilantro 2 ounces fresh ginger 2 teaspoons each of the following: Pure sesame oil Black pepper Garlic powder Cumin Paprika Oregano To prepare: Cut vegetables (not tomatoes) into 1-inch-by-1-inch squares (approximate) and venison into 1-inch cubes. Make sure to trim venison of silver skin. Blend all marinade ingredients other than oil together thoroughly in food processor. Once blended together, continue blending and slowly add oil. TIP: Heat the honey for 10 seconds in the microwave to make it easier to pour and blend. Soak venison chunks in marinade for 3 hours in fridge. Rinse your cut vegetables and tomatoes and toss in light dusting of kosher salt and black pepper. Assemble your kabobs by alternating between meat and vegetables as you see fit. (I typically do a few vegetables then two chunks of meat, repeat.) Make sure all items are packed tightly to facilitate rotating kabobs on grill. Fire up the grill and once it reaches 400 degrees, add your kabobs. For this recipe, I grill on a Steelmade Flat Top designed to go over outdoor grills, as I sometimes prefer seasoned steel to fire when grilling. Rotate kabobs until all sides of vegetables are charred and slightly soft, and meat is 125 degrees in the middle, remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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