I have been a pescatarian for a long time…mostly by necessity rather than choice. Meat and poultry were removed from my diet in childhood. In college i tried to put chicken back into my routine tiny piece by tiny piece and believe me when i say it did not work. If you eat a protein, then dont eat it for twenty years, and try to reintroduce, you will not be leaving the bathroom often for the next year. So i have avoided beef, pork, chicken, and turkey for decades now. I eat fish, seafood, frog legs, insects, and really any kind of non-familiar protein i can introduce rather than reintroduce to my system.
A coworker recently asked me if i had tried deer meat, since this would be a protein i hadnt tasted in childhood and my body likely wouldnt recognize. I decided to take him up on the offer to give me a little piece of deer meat from his freezer. I thought he was just going to give me a small smidgeon of meat in a ziploc baggie and i’d find some way to cook it and try it just to see if my system would accept it. Well, i was busy with a 35 lb puppy in my lap cradled like a baby so i didnt pay much attention when he handed me an heb bag and told me there was an icepack in there to keep it cold until i got home. I just took the bag and assumed the weight was from the ice pack. When i got home i realized there was a whole piece of a deer vacuum sealed in a bag marinating in its own blood. i was like, holy ****, what am i going to do with this amount of deer? This is not a pop a smidgeon into a frying pan for a second and then swallow it endeavor. I felt privileged that he had given me a good sized piece of a deer either he or his son must have shot, that was meant to feed his family throughout the year. I felt like this was a generous gift and so i needed to at least try to do it justice. For someone that hadn’t handled red meat in 25 years i was pretty clueless as to where to begin. Everyone told me to fry it….like bread it and drop it in oil. Well im allergic to gluten and find gluten free flours get kind of gummy when you need them to be crispy, so i abandoned this idea. I did a tiny bit of google research and settled on cutting the piece of deer into 4 pieces, which my knife wasnt really sharp enough to do. I managed, even if somewhat clumsily. I sprinkled each side of the meat with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Then i got a pan ready with some good olive oil. Both my coworker and the internet had said that deer meat was lean and could easily become dry so it was important to bathe it in fat when cooking. I didnt understand how breading and frying the stuff would achieve this and rather settled instead on a method i used in one of my favorite smoked citrus shrimp recipes. There was a marinade yes but the recipe called for you to spoon vegan butter over the shrimp continuously as they cooked in their shell, in the hopes that they be soaked in it and absorb the fat and flavor while also cooking in the marinade. So i decided to cook it in the olive oil in a pan and keep rubbing pats of vegan butter back and forth over the pieces, letting the meat absorb it as it melted. To be clear, this was all an experiment. Its probably not the “right” way to cook deer meat but it worked deliciously for me. Both my coworker and google said not to cook the meat to death. They said brown the outside for just a few minutes on each side and the inside should still be pink and a bit bloody. So thats what i did. I cooked the meat a few minutes on each side with big pats of vegan butter melting on top of them. I used the back of a metal spoon to move the butter around so the top of each piece was thoroughly coated with marbling melted vegan butter. Then i pulled them out of the pan while they were still soft and pliable, with some give to them and full of juice. I didnt want them each to become a rubbery well-cooked puck. I let the pieces rest for a few minutes and then cut into the corner of one. A mixture of vegan butter and blood escaped the meat. It looked tasty. I cut off a little corner piece and tasted it. The texture was familiar. It was a strange sensation to be chewing red meat again after over two decades. I tried to override the “danger, danger, indigestion soon to follow!” warning messages that were trying to convince me to spit it out. I was committed to the experiment. I was trying this, and i would just have to find out how awfully sick i would or would not get. I swallowed the piece. Then i sat in nervous anxiety for hours. There was a slight amount of tummy protest but nothing to really take note of. It stayed down. Only then did i allow myself to fully process how good it tasted. It tasted like butter. It was juicy and slightly warm and the salt and pepper were just enough flavor to make it really enjoyable and there were tiny crunchy edges attached to the soft barely cooked pliable middle piece.
Each day i looked forward to my one little piece of deer meat and each day i made the piece slightly bigger. There was some amount of gas to begin with but it never resulted in a full blown rejection like chicken had gone. Once my system became used to the meat the gas was less frequent and then non existent. I very carefully had a slightly larger piece each day until it was an incorporated food in my diet. A different coworker mentioned to me in passing that he was glad the experiment went well because my body was probably starving for creatine. I didnt fully understand what he was talking about so i made a mental note to research it later.
Ever since my 2020 bought of covid ive found muscle repair a very difficult thing to do. I used to have no problem with it. I was eating seafood and i think i must have been getting creatine from the fish and other seafood i was eating. Im not sure why but after covid, i never again could achieve reasonably timed muscle repair. If i did a workout, i was next-day level sore for 6 days. I had to give up p90x which i felt devastated over. It made me feel ten times older and as if i was falling apart. Not only did i miss being in shape. I missed the antidepressant effects of exercise. After adding deer meat to my diet i decided to conduct another experiment. I cold turkey began the p90x ab workout i hadnt done in two years at 15 reps an exercise and then did the exercise regiment daily for a week. On day 3 i switched to the full 25 reps for each exercise and 50 reps for the last one. I was minimally sore by day 5 but it was really nothing! I could barely feel that i had exercised and my abs were quickly regaining definition. I had more energy and i was able to exercise massive amounts without becoming sore and debilitated. This development elevated deer meat to an important spot in my diet. I really rather enjoyed this new super-power…being able to exercise again. I was worried that my body was open to accepting the new protein because it needed desperately something it was providing, so i did not buy a creatine supplement. I figured if i wanted to add this food to my diet, it might be better to make it the sole source of something my body was craving so that it would be more receptive towards the new protein hanging around frequently. Im still doing my p90x ab workout daily and today i loaded 50 lb bags of dog food in and out of the car without any soreness. Eventually i will run out of these four pieces of deer meat, at which point i will have to think about how i am going to obtain more. Ive thought about it. I think my ocd alone is going to create a problem that is insurmountable in the obtaining of a deer independently. If i was to learn to handle a gun, shoot a deer, and then know anything about gutting and skinning it….there would lie the hurdle. I like to do things meticulously and thoroughly. With a dead deer you have to harvest the meat before the flies can land on it. Those flies quickly lay eggs which become maggots. They have also been walking all over poop and roadkill and are now tracking that all over your freshly killed meat. Theres no time to be meticulous and thorough. I would hate it and probably suck horribly at it. All of this is assuming im going to already have gotten over the hurdle of thinking of all deer as bambi, bambi’s mother, or bambi’s father. Thank you Disney. I think, if i was the last person on earth, id probably figure a way to kill them myself, out of necessity. But as long as im not the last person on earth…why not just trade stuff that i have thats not deer to people that have deer and do not have other stuff? So, i need to step up my other stuff production operations over here so that i have something to trade for deer meat once in a while throughout the year.
Side note: it was so good, if my coworkers ever kidnap me in camo to teach me how to hunt, im probably not saying no. Cant make any promises about how functional id be as a hunter…. but the meat sure is tasty pan seared in vegan butter after two decades without.