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Venison juniper berry marinade

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(Read caption) Monitor weekly edition editor Clay Collins prepares a cut of venison for a juniper berry marinade.

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It’s lean and local. And although it once was an indigenous staple, venison is still new enough on many modern American tables to stoke a lively culinary conversation.

Fresh from the wild, it’s a healthful, flavorful, alternative red meat.

Vegetarians, or anyone who can’t hear “deer” without picturing Bambi’s slain mother, can just scroll further down on Stir It Up! to the chocolate fondue.

If you’re a fairly adventurous eater who can live without a USDA stamp and the cookie-cutter perfection of the meat-aisle offerings – and if you hunt, or know a hunter (venison is not widely available in stores) – then this meat could be one of your favorite occasional protein sources.

It’s become one of mine. Christmas at my German in-laws’ house in New York’s Hudson Valley – America’s Rhineland – means goose, red cabbage, and klösse (potato dumplings). But my in-laws are close friends with an avid hunter, so the door prize for our visits during a certain season is often venison.

This year, we get a lot of it. Double-bagged, it nearly fills a 54-quart cooler.

It is also barely butchered.

Hung to cure, skinned, and quartered, this buck has been passed along to us as a most of hind quarter and a foreleg. There are still some stray, coarse hairs. (Again, to skip to chocolate fondue, click here.)

When we get the meat home, my best knives come out. I did some small-game hunting (ruffed grouse, rabbit) as a kid. I watched my father field dress a white-tail.

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