Appalachia Appalachian Food

Fried Tenderloin


As you might imagine we eat a lot of deer meat. We like it cooked a variety of ways. When The Deer Hunter harvests his meat he either cans it or freezes it.

Opening a can of deer meat makes for a quick and tasty supper. Cooking a ham (roast) takes more planning since the cooking time is longer. My favorite way The Deer Hunter cooks a ham is overnight in the oven. I’ve heard Paul say if he had to choose one last meal to eat it would include The Deer Hunter’s deer ham.

Frying tenderloin also makes for a quick supper. Chitter is the queen of fried tenderloin, the girl loves it and would eat it every day if she could.


When The Deer Hunter was growing up Papaw Tony made fried deer tenderloin for him. After slicing the tenderloin in half-inch slices, Papaw would use a coffee cup to tenderize the meat by beating it with the edge or lip of the cup. Having learned from his daddy The Deer Hunter used a coffee cup for many years and even taught the girls to use it.

I’m not coordinated enough to use a coffee cup so I use an ice cream scooper. I know they make a tool especially designed for tenderizing meat, but somehow we never get around to buying one so we use what’s on hand.

After tenderizing the meat, we dredge the pieces in a flour, salt, pepper mixture and fry in hot oil in a cast iron frying pan. Only takes a minute or so on each side and its done. When I first started cooking deer meat I almost always over cooked it.

The other day I was talking to a couple about venison. After we’d talked a few minutes I said “You know I never even heard the word venison until I was an adult. We always called it deer meat, actually we still always call it deer meat.” The lady said now that she thought about it her family only called it deer meat too.


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  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    February 13, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    Tipper there is nothing as good as deer tendloin for breakfast with a pan full of white gravy and biscuit along with eggs my nephew visiting with us from Kansas my niece was there from Atlanta and My neighbor has brought me and T some deer tendloin and me and Sue fixed Randy and T one more good breakfast that next morning and our nephew by chance Mary do you have any more tendloin and I said yes and I repeated the breakfast the next morning Randy pigged our on deer meat

  • Reply
    February 5, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I hope all your readers will share your recipes!! I will certainly look for the book Jim C. mentioned.

    We aren’t hunters but allow hunters to use our property and they bring us meat which I have yet to successfully cook. I really need some lessons.

    BTW – is “wasting disease” hitting your area? I have to assume it would affect the taste even in the early stages where it might not yet be detected. . . .

  • Reply
    February 5, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Fried deer tenderloin is delicious! My husband used to make deer jerky, too. He hasn’t hunted in years.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Oh, NO!! The tenderloin doesn’t need to be tenderized. It is sooooo tender and perfect just the way it is. I tenderize the round steak and make wonderful swiss steak. Lovely tender meat in gorgeous gravy. We have always called our “deer meat” venison, but I suppose technically that term encompasses more animals that just the white tail deer… we should change to “deer meat”. Had deer tenderloin for supper. MMMMMM Good.

    You are very right that when hunting you MUST take very good care of your meat. We have a large cooler and let our deer hang about a week to let the meat “age”. Improves taste and tenderness. We do all our butchering at home. I have never canned my “deer meat”, but my nephew does and it is wonderful. I have hunted for over 50 years, but do turkey hunting mostly these days. Husband, two sons and two grandsons bring home the whitetail deer.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    i’m a firm believer in its how its processed…i’ve cooked many a meal of deer meat and people had no idea it was deer they were eating…i’ve never canned it but want to try someday…

  • Reply
    Tom Deep
    February 4, 2019 at 11:31 am

    When I was young we had a coal furnace. The best deer I ever ate was cut into cubes, put on a skewer and cooked over the hot coals right in the funance.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 4, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Tipper–I must respectfully but stridently disagree with those who talk about “gamey” taste, meat being strong, or otherwise being adverse to venison. As you indicate, handling, aging, and processing are important, as is the manner of cooking. I would bet a crisp $100 bill I can fix a number of venison dishes diners who think they are eating beef will rave about. Ann and I have written two cookbooks devoted exclusively to venison and other of our works have major sections devoted to deer meat (which is a more accurate term–venison can be applied to pretty much any wild ungulate) and I’ve tested too many folks who waxed eloquent about the meat they were enjoying only to be amazed when we revealed it was from a whitetail.
    As for your tenderizing tools, you really need to get you one of those handy dandy meat hammers. Failing that, I think you might find the bottom of the handle on a dinner knife works as well, if not better, than what you are using.
    Another thought–depending on the cut, overcooking can be the ruination of deer meat. That is certainly true when it comes to fresh or frozen tenderloin. For all that I’ve worked with, cooked, and eaten deer meat (for each cookbook we wrote we ate venison at least twice a day for six months in the testing process), I’ve never canned it or, to my knowledge, eaten canned venison (although that’s how we handled pork when I was a boy).
    Finally, no one should overlook the appreciable health benefits of the meat–low in cholesterol, no growth-inducing or other artificial hormones, the only red meat some heart patients are allowed to eat, and more. I could go on for a long time, but maybe I’ll just say that our “The Complete Venison Cookbook” has hundreds of recipes and lots of background information on health benefits, prep, etc.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Tipper i for one love deer jerky . I take it to work with me and snack on it. Our kids wanted it in their Christmas stocking this passed yr. We love it. I’ve tried it other ways, but jerky is what i like best.

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    February 4, 2019 at 9:40 am

    The word venison cones from a French word meaning ‘ wild meat.’ It soneow got associated with deer meat in some parts of America.
    I like to make sausage from deer meat, but I quit hunting when my knees got too bad for it.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    February 4, 2019 at 9:32 am

    I’m like TMC, I was raised on rabbit, squirrel, quail, and grouse. The deer at that time were few and far between in Also like TMC I tried duck hunting and even dove and woodcock hunting and it was a lot of fun, but quit. Didn’t like the taste. I’ve taken several deer when my son was at home. He likes it as well as prime beef. I guess the closest I came to liking deer was a small buck I arrowed over in several yrs. ago. It bleed out good and I let it hang for 3 days, I think, before processing. The Wife and Son loved it and ate it up in a week. It just don’t have the right taste for me. I love pork.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 9:30 am

    My sister’s sixteen year old granddaughter keeps peeking in on the processing of the deer her daddy or papaw is working on. She will finally ask them if they are going to get done in time to fix some for supper. I never saw a deer until I was a grown woman. Never ate deer meat and never will. My girls have been vegetarians since they were teenagers and I could be too with little effort. They recently started eating chicken and turkey. That makes it easy on me if they come to dinner, as that is about the only meat I cook anyway.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 9:21 am

    That looks and sounds so good, Tipper! I’m having a hard time reliably sourcing good meat of any kind at the moment, and if I could use a shotgun I would likely be trying for deer myself. After several experiences, though, I have to admit that a 22 rifle is my physical limit.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    February 4, 2019 at 9:15 am

    I’ve never had deer tenderloin and I’m one of the ones who has trouble eating game. I know it’s unreasonable but can’t help it. When I was young & we still had pigs, the fried tenderloin was such a treat. Daddy didn’t hunt and we seldom had meat of any kind so it was a special treat for us.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    February 4, 2019 at 9:12 am

    The difference between deer meat and venison is about $25/ pound. Deer meat is killed and processed by the hunter. Venison is bought in usually high priced stores.

    We like rabbit and found some at Public Grocery @ $15/ pound many years ago. Needless to say we didn’t buy it. At the time beef was $7.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 4, 2019 at 8:57 am

    The tenderloin is my favorite part of the deer as well. It is tender and best eaten fresh, before freezing. The Deer Hunter is also very careful (picky) with the cleaning and processing of the meat. That makes a big difference in the ultimate taste of the meat.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    February 4, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I tried deer meat one time and just could not get it down. We were at a friends house and her husband had gone hunting and the had cooked some deer meat. My husband insisted I just try a tiny piece. I dared him to EVER do that to me again! I have Bambi syndrome!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 8:41 am

    My daddy was a bird hunter. Quail and pheasant and probably that from the time he was a young kid in MS because the deer were gone by that time. Squirrel and rabbit too. You can’t beat fried squirrel and rabbit with biscuits and milk gravy. When we were transferred out to PA, I had some co-workers that were deer hunters and they would bring in the best deer bologna. My next door neighbor is a professor of computer science and a big deer hunter. He puts up deer meat for his family and always give us some too. I must say it is pretty good.

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    February 4, 2019 at 7:51 am

    I’ve never tasted deer tenderloin, but I love pork tenderloin. It is especially delicious taken from a freshly killed pig. We just fried it. Best for breakfast.

  • Reply
    Roger Greene
    February 4, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Spot on, Tipper. I have told people the following on more than one occasion: “If I chased a prime angus helfer around the field, gut shot her and after getting her down drove her around in the bed of a pickup for half a day before skinning, and then contanimated the meat with hair, fecal matter and trash, you wouldn’t like the tast of beef.”

    You must treat a deer like food from the moment of the harvest to the table for it to be enjoyable. I still remember my girls complaining their first beef steak was “greasy” after being raised on venison of various kinds. (Whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope. Each type of venison having a distinct flavor.)

    It is the same with goat milk. But that is a different story.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    February 4, 2019 at 7:47 am

    We call canned deer meat Cold Pack. We put the small pieces of meat in the jar with a little water and about a tabs. of salt.
    We then water bath it . It makes it’s own gravy and is delicious with eggs for breakfast. We are now feeding the deer and turkeys so hunting is out of the question. I guess old age is setting in because I would rather watch them then shoot them.
    I do have some pesky squirrels that are pushing their luck but I have to admit they are fun to watch too.
    We have a neighbor who still goes hunting and last year he supplied us with some deer burger and a bear roast. Wasn’t too fond of the bear roast.
    Think I will just keep taking photos. I have a great shot of a bear in our driveway before the weather turned cold. My neighbor told me not to worry about the bear because as soon as acorns begin to fall they go back to the mountains. I reminded him we are living in the mountains in the middle of about 50 oak trees. I think he found a buffet right here in our yard.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 4, 2019 at 7:43 am

    We never said ‘venison’ either. I probably first encountered the word in reading. Even now if I heard the word venison spoken I would note it as being unusual.

    The longer I garden the more I sympathise with the guy who said he went hunting because he was a plant conservationist. The deer eat my camelia about 10 feet off the corner of my porch and everything else they can reach. I just learned last week that 10-foot fence posts and 8-foot wire is made especially for deer fencing.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    February 4, 2019 at 6:59 am

    We love deer meat, especially the tenderloins and jerky. I like sprinkling a little garlic powder on mine before I tenderize it. We have a tenderizing tool we use know, but I used to use the edge of a saucer to tenderize meat with.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 5:26 am

    Deer meat is something I never got the taste for, we were raised on quail, rabbit, or squirrel hunting, and as I got older I took up turkey hunting, tried duck hunting a few times, didn’t like the meat so I quit hunting ducks, many folks say, O you just wasn’t’ cooking it right, tried many different ways, even hurt an ole turkey hunting buddy of mine feelings when I spit his deer jerky out, it tasted like the Southend of a northbound goat, just cannot get my taste buds to except it.

    • Reply
      February 4, 2019 at 6:47 am

      TMC-you know I felt exactly like you, until I met The Deer Hunter and Papaw Tony. They say the taste of the meat starts the instant you harvest the deer. It all depends on how you clean and process the meat. Now I want to send you some our deer meat to see if it changes your taste buds 🙂

      • Reply
        February 4, 2019 at 8:34 pm

        O well, I’m up for it, I did forget there was this one time a Guy I work with brought some deer jerky in that someone gave him and I actually thought it was beef after he told me what it was I told him to tell whoever gave him that jerky it was the best deer jerky I’ve ever had, I’ve actually tried summer sausage made with deer meat, my Brothers deer jerky, deer burgers, fried deer, didn’t like it, maybe if it tasted more like turkey or quail or if deer had wings I could get used to it.

      • Reply
        Marcia Walden
        July 7, 2019 at 9:21 pm

        We miss Western Pennsylvania smoked deer sausage (or German/Christmas sausage, we called it) so much we have it shipped out to California for the holidays. I remember my dad always saying how they dress the deer immediately after they shoot it. There are some glands that if not handled properly will ruin the meat of the entire animal. We never called it venison either.

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