I’m not gonna beat around the bush here. I have an agenda: I want to inspire you to eat your neck. Well, not yours. But your deer, elk, antelope, moose, etc. necks are full of meat that I’m sure has endless potential to end up as all kinds of food – but then there are tacos.
I was lucky to be able to harvest my first deer earlier this year (I’m coming into hunting as a clueless adult), and after spending hours butchering it on my kitchen table, I ended up with a lot of meat cuts I’d never had before. A whole neck roast was one of them. I have the benefit of being an expert head remover at this point in my life, so not a vertebrae was left behind.
All the research I did on how to cook a venison neck came down to low and slow, so enter the crock pot. It was a small deer, so I was able to cut the neck roast in half and put the whole thing in, and treated it just like I was making stock. I threw in some big chunks of celery, carrot and onion, some fragrant herbs, and whatever was in our “future stock” bag in the freezer. This is a bag of stock-appropriate scraps that we add to as we cook. Onion and carrot ends, leek butts, garlic skins, whatever makes sense goes in there to wait until it’s full, and then it’s stock making time. If you cook a lot, I highly recommend this.
The best part of slow cookers is that you can turn it on and forget it. Go run some errands, hang out with some flesh-eating beetles, polish some elk antlers, then come back to a house that smells like heaven with food pretty much ready to go.
I let the neck roast cool just until I could pull the meat off with my fingers, threw together some taco-style seasoning to mix into it, and fried it up in oil until the meat was browned and just crispy enough to make it interesting, but not too dry. Best. Tacos. Ever. And as if that’s not enough, all that liquid left over in the slow cooker is beautiful stock.
Neck meat pulled off the bone, seasoned and seared.
Every year I get at least a few elk and deer heads in the shop with a fair bit of their neck hanging off of them. All that meat could have been tacos. I suspect there are a lot of folks who don’t realize the glorious potential of neck meat when they’re processing game, so now you know.
We had so much meat from our small venison neck that we also had a chance to try out Steve Rinella‘s idea of mixing the pulled meat with BBQ sauce and making a killer sandwich. You can find that recipe here: Neck Roast BBQ Sandwich
BBQ Neck Meat Sandwich