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January 1997 Volume 2, Number 1

Book Review: The Complete Venison Cookbook

Every time I see a book titled ``The Complete this'' or ``The complete that,'' I say to myself, sure. Here we go again. Complete may be accurate as far as the author's knowledge is concerned, but it really is a rather absolute term. To have complete knowledge of any subject is quite an order--a worthy goal perhaps, but quite an order nevertheless.

With this bias well in mind, I picked up The Complete Venison Cookbook and said to myself, let's settle this right off the bat. Let's see if it contains my grandmother's recipe for venison mincemeat. I looked in the index, under mincemeat, and there was no entry. Aha, I knew it! But just to be sure, I next looked under venison mincemeat, and to my surprise, it referred me to page 282. I quickly found the page and there it was--grandma's mincemeat! The title of the recipe was simply ``mincemeat,'' but this was grandma's formula, no doubt about it, and my interest in the book increased. I moved from the index at the back and looked at the table of contents in the front.

The book is organized into 31 chapters, and like any venison cookbook, it includes sections on steaks, chops, roasts, and ribs. What about other parts of the animal, like the liver or tongue? Turning to the chapter titled Venison Variety Meats, I found 26 recipes for: barbecued bones, liver, tongue, kidneys, brains (in potato shells), heart, marrow, and mouffle. Yes, mouffle.

The recipe is for venison mouffle with brown butter sauce and it explains that venison mouffle is the loose covering around the nose and lips of deer. The chef is instructed as follows: ``Remove and clean the mouffle. Place the mouffle, vegetables, and spices in boiling water. After 5 minutes, remove any scum that rises to the top. Simmer the mouffle uncovered until tender, about 50 minutes per pound. Drain and reserve cooking liquid. Skin and trim the mouffle. Reheat the mouffle in the cooking liquid. Serve with beurre noir sauce.''

While I did find the recipe interesting, and while it did cause me to wonder just how many deer it takes to get a pound of mouffle, I concluded that I am probably not a mouffle person. I am, however, a chili person.

I love venison chili, especially on a day where the wind is blowing, the temperature is about 33 degrees, and it's raining. I went to the chapter on venison chilies and found 20 unique offerings that made my mouth water just by reading. I threw my bias aside and said, this is a good book!

If you get tired of chili, you can check out Stroganoffs-- nine recipes are included. In fact, I can't think of anything that isn't included. There are sections on: venison appetizers, venison soups and salads, venison entrees, and appropriate breads, drinks, punches, side dishes, desserts, and lagniappe (a little something extra). You can also find instructions for sausages and sausage dishes, corned venison, and jerky. There is a chapter titled Freezing, Canning, Smoking and Curing as well as one on marinades. And don't miss the one on sauces and gravies.

Rather than go through the table of contents line by line, let me just say that my bias against the word ``complete'' in a book title has been badly shaken. As far as this reviewer is concerned, this 420 page compendium of over 900 recipes, 700 of which feature venison, completely fills my needs for a venison cookbook.

The book is available from Quail Ridge Press, P.O. Box 123, Brandon, MS 39043, (800) 343-1583, paper bound, 8 1/2 x 11, 420 pages, $19.95 plus $2.00 postage

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