Plymouth pilgrims and Wampanoag natives ate venison at the first Thanksgiving, saying grace over the whitetails that staved off starvation. Pioneers, fur trappers, priests—the quest for New World freedoms, riches, and souls was fueled by the flesh of whitetail deer. And long before these settlers arrived, whitetails formed the very sinew and soul and sustenance of the first Americans. So forget apple pie. There is no food more fundamental to this nation than a haunch of deer.
Why eat venison? Because venison is low in fat. Because it can be obtained relatively cheaply. Because it is free of the pharmacological stew of growth hormones, antibiotics, and antifungals fed or injected into commercial livestock. Because venison resonates with the current slow-food movement, and locavorism, the hip new mantra of community-based consumption that short-circuits the burning of fossil fuels. Eat a deer, save the planet.
Venison is not gamey, it merely has a flavor. Deer forage for their food. They eat grass, herbs, acorns, berries. Sometimes the simpler the seasonings the better, especially with the tender cuts of venison such as the tenderloin and backstrap of the deer. There are many cuts and methods of cooking venison that the meat must be eaten rare. If venison is overcooked it is like eating rubber, but if seared and allowed to rest for about ten minutes before slicing, it is like eating butter. Venison cooks faster than beef and when cooking it rare needs to only reach a temperature of 130 degrees. If venison reaches 150 degrees it begins to toughen.