The regular firearms season ended Saturday and about 8 percent to 12 percent of hunters in Maine shot and registered a deer. For some folks, visions of elegant meals excite the family, but in other households not everyone likes venison; consequently, eating a whole deer turns into a chore that will end in failure.

As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone disliking venison. We ate so much deer meat in my family that I truly disliked beefsteak, which tasted rancid to my young palette. My parents often purchased beef from a nearby rural store, which might have been the problem – selling old meat.

One evening my father had proudly brought home top-round beefsteak, and at the tender age of 7 I created a family incident by refusing to eat it. He whacked me on the head with a baseball cap, a favorite trick of male parents in those years. As many Mainers my age know, the hinging effect between the visor and cap generates speed, so a hat with a button on top travels through the air so fast that it smarts.

I loved deer chops and venison cuts from the backbone and hindquarter, and once ate myself sick on deer chops when I was 7. Years later my two daughters grew up eating venison and also loved the flavor as much, reminding me of a quick anecdote:

When my oldest, Heather, was 4 and having an annual physical, the doctor was subtly checking her home nutrition and asked about her favorite meals. Without hesitating she said, “I like pizza, macaroni and cheese, and deer meat.” And she emphasized the last one.

The doctor had never heard a kid choose venison, and Heather was referring to the following recipe. Most folks relish this dish whenever I serve it.

Venison in a Wine Sauce, Over Linguine

Gather the following ingredients:

2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 to 2 pounds of cubed venison, bite-sized

1 coarsely chopped onion

One-half to 1 pound of sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon of olive oil (again)

2 tablespoons of flour

One-half to 1 cup of dry red wine

Enough water or beef broth to cover the meat

1 to 2 heaping teaspoons of dill weed (optional)

This is a democratic dish. If the home chef has no olive oil, then vegetable oil, shortening or lard suffices. Mushrooms and dill weed also prove optional, but these ingredients strike me as a must.

On a medium burner, brown the cubed venison and chopped onions in two to three tablespoons olive oil. (The meat and onions should be browned well, which makes the dish more hearty tasting.) Then, near the end of browning (or in a separate skillet), cook the sliced mushrooms until golden.

After pushing the venison, onions and mushrooms to the side of the pan, pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and immediately put the flour into the oil and cook it for a minute or three, enough to alleviate the flour taste. Next, pour red wine on the flour and stir like mad to remove lumps. Then cover the meat and vegetables with beef broth (or water). Sprinkle in dill weed and simmer until the wine sauce has reached the desired consistency.

Three quick tips help turn folks into a venison eater.

Most hunters store venison in a freezer and thaw it before cooking, a problem because the meat holds lots of water. When pan-broiling water-spewing cuts in a 10-inch skillet, the meat stews rather than fries. To alleviate this problem, home chefs should use a 12-inch skillet with a raised middle, so the water runs to the side – a great solution. My 12-inch skillet goes by the brand name Texas Skillet (

 If onions remain translucent without browning, the finished dish has a stronger onion flavor – fine for some folks. Well-browned onions create a richer, heartier flavor, which pleases my palate.

Well-done venison may take on a livery taste that finicky palates abhor. (I’m not a liver fan.) Medium-cooked venison resembles lamb, particularly with liberal doses of dill weed. Remember, though, eating undercooked meat that’s still pink is unhealthy, because various bacteria may not be killed. I live dangerously, though, but don’t recommend it to readers.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at

[email protected]