My family discovered how horrible venison can taste in the 1970s after I killed my first buck. My family had butchered hogs and cattle for many years and cutting up the deer was simple. Then came the magic moment when mom cooked it and we took the first bite. We all made faces that might have won an “America’s Funniest Videos” award. The deer meat tasted terrible.

Many mistakes were made in the preparation, but we eventually learned. Now venison for dinner is welcomed, especially deer burger in tacos, chili, lasagna and deer burgers or breakfast sausages.

A clean job of field dressing is the first step to good venison. Sadly, this is not always possible when a bullet or arrow opens part of the stomach or somehow opens the gut lining. We have had poor luck in saving deer meat after a bladder or stomach contents touch the meat. A clean kill is the secret and this always means going to the target range to practice.

We soak our venison steaks or chops in buttermilk or Italian salad dressing. Many soak venison in salt water, a matter of personal taste. A key to having your steaks not have a gamey flavor is by removing the fat. Fat is excellent on beef steak, but not venison.

My friend Roy Cox cooked excellent venison. He took chunks of venison steak or chops and pounded them flat, seasoned with lemon pepper and let sit while the oil heated. He added flour and spices like garlic, onion powder, parsley or whatever he decided to try in a dry mix. He next dipped each piece of tenderized meat in flour mixture then deep fried it to a golden brown.

That said, remember to never overcook venison – a mistake often made by novice cooks. This is the case with most wild game.

Deer meat is a leaner meat than beef, so add olive oil when cooking it. This is especially true for browning ground meat. Many of my friends add onions, garlic and bell peppers with a little olive oil in the pan while browning the meat for added flavor.

We always add at least 15 percent pork fat when grinding venison burger. This makes the naturally dry meat taste better and the burger holds together much better when frying. Some meat processing plants add pork sausage, bacon or other desirable meats to the burger for a different taste. Many just add ground beef to their ground venison, a pound of beef with a pound of venison or perhaps less – depending on taste.

Many of my friends love deer roasts, but I do not. I grind it up – my personal opinion. Those who cook roasts often use a crockpot with some beef broth and onion soup mix. Before cooking soak it in cold water, changing the water on occasion for better flavor.

Here are some recipes:

Chili Venison Supreme

Start with two pounds of venison or buffalo burger, two large white onions, diced, two 14-ounce cans of black beans drained, two 14-ounce cans of brown beans drained, two 14-ounce cans of kidney beans drained, a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes with garlic and basil, a packet of chili seasoning, 24 ounces of tomato sauce and 10 ounces of water. Hot peppers are optional.

Brown venison with onions while stirring in chili seasoning to taste, I use Williams. You can use a five-alarm type seasoning or the milder versions. Then, when the meat is browned, add tomato sauce and stir, then cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

Next add the remainder of ingredients. Cook on low for an hour, stir occasionally. Add a cup of applesauce and cook on low an additional half hour for a different flavor, again, stir occasionally. Then let cool and serve that evening or the following day.

Venison Surprise

Start with 1 1/2 pounds venison steak or roast, 1 bottle Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade with Lime Juice, 1 cup flour, 1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1/8 teaspoon garlic pepper, 1/4 cup butter or margarine, 1/2 cup green onions, chopped, 1 clove garlic, crushed, 3/4 pound sliced mushrooms, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup burgundy wine, 1 10 1/2-ounce can consumé, 1 cup sour cream, wild rice or pasta.

Cut venison into bite-sized pieces and combine with the Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade with Lime juice in a resealable bag. Refrigerate for two hours. In a heavy pot, melt butter or margarine and brown the onions and garlic. Remove meat from marinade and let drain.

Coat venison with flour/salt/pepper mix and brown in butter. Add mushrooms and drain off any excess butter. Add lemon juice, consumé and wine. Add Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Garlic Pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add sour cream, cover and cook on lowest setting for 15 additional minutes. Serve over rice and pasta.

Bon appetit!

– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at kieserkenneth@gmail.com.