Kjell Hedström - 2018
If you have not butchered your own deer or elk yet then you should. I find it a very rewarding experience as it increases ones self-sufficiency, gives you a better product and knowledge of the meat you are later cooking with.
Breaking down a hind leg could be considered the hard part of Do It Yourself (DIY) butchering. By reading this blog entry and watching the videos I have posted below you will be well prepared to try it yourself.
There are multiple ways of breaking down a deer's hind leg. Regardless of method you choose, if you are following the natural muscle structures you cannot really do it wrong. Using this basic principle of separating the hind leg by the whole muscle structures you will do just fine. The same principle can be applied to elk and moose.
In the follow-up to this blog article you will find general guidelines on the different cuts and what they can be used for. As you see in Part II, proper DIY aging at home will give you more freedom on what to use the meat for compared to if you had not aged the meat.
My basic and inexpensive set-up can be viewed above and in the picture here on the right.
A grinder. With my wife's Kitchen Aid Mixer with grinder attachment I have no problem grinding up deer, elk and even a moose. Granted, I make sure to remove silver skin and tendons first. You can always start small and upgrade to a heavy duty grinder later.
Sharp knives and cutting boards are a must. I highly recommend to have access to a fillet knife, deboning knife and a couple of regular hunting or all-purpose knives.
A good and easy to use sharpener. Use the sharpener often. Clean the knives often.
A vacuum packing machine, from a simple FoodSaver to something more heavy duty, whether you wet age your meat or not.
I find covering the table with plastic sheeting helps with cleanup. You can find plastic sheeting at your local paint store or Home Depot. I tape the sheeting to the legs of the table to avoid it moving around.
The sheeting really helps in keeping my wife on the positive side of me doing the butchering in the kitchen. The trick is to not having it show the day after that you turned your kitchen into a DIY butcher shop for a few hours.
Disposable gloves. Not to protect you from the meat. It's the other way around.
Kitchen paper towels for easy removal of hair and as needed surface wiping.
Breaking Down a Deer's Hind Leg
In general the top part of the hind leg is more tender. The further down you go the higher concentration of collagen and therefore tougher meat.
With aging you get more flavorful and tender steaks from the top muscles and improved stew and braising meat from the bottom.
When breaking down the hind leg:
Follow the natural seams of the structure of the muscles. You are not cutting into the muscles, you are separating them. Separating them is equal parts using your hands to pull apart the muscles as it is helping out with your knife.
Steven Rinella - Breaking Down a Deer's Hind Leg
Sharing the Outdoors - How to Process a Hindquarter
- first 8 minutes detailed hind leg processing instructions
- the latter part is trimming advice
Chef's advice on How to Butcher a Deer Hind Quarter.
First 7 minutes is breaking down the hind quarter. Pay attention to his recommendation for the steaks. For example, just like my own opinion the top round is a "class A" steak - with aging!