Being the engineer that I am and wanting to gain as much information as possible when learning something new, I took a class on "Deer Processing made Simple" at Nodalski's Butcher Shop, the local butcher in Goochland. It was put on by the Center for Rural Culture, which according to their website, their mission is to educate, promote and inspire members of our community to sustain a culture that supports agriculture and the local economy, protects natural and historic resources, and maintains our rural character and traditions. They have some neat programs throughout the year. The Good Wife is planning to take their wreath making class in December and make our house festive with the small of a fresh wreath. Ah, the rabbit trails these posts take me on. Back to the task at hand.
I arrived at Nodalski's in the evening for the 2 hour class hosted by the owner Jonathan Nodalski. A very friendly man willing to take time out of his busy schedule to show a dozen people how to get the most out of their deer this fall.
Once we were ready, Jonathan brought out the deer that he would be demonstrating on. It had been killed earlier in the week and was gutted and skinned already and hanging in the cooler at the butcher shop.
Being presented in this form, it brings more of a domesticated meat look to the deer, waiting to be butchered. Not exactly how most people do it in the field. Jonathan stressed that all the same cuts you can get out of a cow for the most part are present in a deer, albeit on a much smaller scale, particularly on the sample deer.
Many of the cuts are laid out on the table and here Jonathan is showing how a roast could be butterflied and then folded over spices and other additional seasonings, and then tied up with butcher twine to be ready for cooking.
It didn't take long for the deer to be full processed. One of the more humorous points was that Jonathan had a hand saw for making the cuts through the bones. However, due to the limited class time, and having already put in a full day at the butcher shop, after making a few cuts with the saw he would turn around to his band saw and make quick work of the rest of the bones.
Jonathan is not only a butcher, but also an excellent chef. As many of the people would throw questions out, Jonathan would give his recommendations on how to prepare the various cuts, not only from what spices or sauces would work well with the cuts, but also how to cook them.
In case this post left you wanting more information and a better written description of the class, you can check out an article at the Powhatan Today website. In the second picture above, the lady in the background is the reporter that wrote the article. Unfortunately I was blocked in the picture in the Powhatan Today. I'm in the dark blue shirt right behind Jonathan. My moment of fame gone!
If you are in the Goochland area and have not been to Nodalski's Butcher Shop I highly recommend it. During the week he has prepared meals that you can reserve and pick up after work, either already cooked and ready to go or prepared and all you have to do is heat or do the final cooking. I can personally attest that they are fantastic! Or if you are looking for some great cuts of meat, Jonathan can take care of whatever you need. They get a good portion of their meats direct from local farmers that raise their meat naturally without all the hormones and antibiotics. One day they had Prime Ribeye and the family was out of town, so I went down and got a nice thick cut and went home and put it on the grill. Best steak I have EVER had! But that is another post...