“Momma, why is there water all on the floor in the storage room under the freezer?” are not the words that you want to hear on a beautiful Saturday morning while planning the day as you sip coffee. These are just the words that I heard a few months ago. Upon hearing these words, I ran out to see if what I thought was happening had truly occurred, and yes, my freezer had died and everything had thawed. I was happy to find that all of the meat was cold, but I knew what the day held for me; I would be cooking non-stop all day. I had to cook venison steaks, loins, stew meat, and sausage. I also had quail, wild turkey, and tons of fish including snapper, amberjack, trigger fish, catfish, and tilapia as well. I had to come up with a game plan and fast.
I began with the venison first. I pounded out the venison steaks to 1/4 inch thick, dredged them in seasoned flour, then in an egg and water mixture, then bread crumbs and pan fried them in hopes that in the reheating process they would retain a crispy outer texture and be tender on the inside. I proceeded to lay the pan fried deer meat on a sheetpan in a single layer and freeze it until frozen. After the meat had frozen, I bagged the meat in gallon sized freezer bags. Of course, you could use smaller bags and separate out portions that would be more conducive to your family (I have a family of 9 with boys that could eat everything contained in the United States).
My hopes were realized upon my decision to prepare Parmesan Venison the next week. I reheated the frozen meat in a 200 degree oven for about 20 minutes and this method worked for this thawed and refrozen meat. You could use this meat for other recipes as well, incuding but certainly not limited to, venison topped with gravy, or a lightly dressed salad topped with the re-heated fried venison and slivers of parmesan cheese.
The second preparation of the venison did not go so well. Sometimes our family likes to pound the venison steaks and marinate them in a low sodium soy sauce and brown them on the griddle for breakfast to eat along side of our eggs, grits, and biscuits. I tried to freeze this venison on sheetpans and bag them in freezer bags using the same process as above, but
upon reheating, the venison was dry and rubbery. I do not recommend this at all. I did salvage the meat by chopping it into small peices and making lettuce wraps with it. This preparation was a success.
The third method used for the venison steaks I will do again for a quick meal on days that supper hour arrives too soon. I thinly sliced the steaks into 1/2 inch strips for stir fry. I lightly coated the venison in olive oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and seared it on each side for about one minute per side until just browned. I immediately placed the meat in a freezer bag and froze it. Upon thawing the venison and adding it to my mixture of vegetables and spices, it did nicely. It was fabulous when used in my enchilada recipe.
Of course the ground meat and sausage did excellently when used for spaghetti, lasagna, and casseroles. The scraps (stew meat), which I love, did wonderfully. I prepared the entire stew and soup recipes and it was perfect for a quick meal. I stored them in tupperware containersin the freezer. Upon reheating, it tasted as if I had just prepared it. I highly recommend this method of cooking and refreezing.
I think that in the future I will prepare some of the meals ahead of time and refreeze them for the holidays. If I get stressed or if there are too many activities that I do not have time to cook I will have dinner right at my fingertips. Sometimes it is just nice not to have to mess up the kitchen, but to have an awesome healthy meal in a matter of minutes.