Venison makes its fast-food debut in Dansville, Bath
DANSVILLE – Venison, a favorite fall staple of Southern Tier hunters, made its fast-food debut across the United States, including Dansville and Bath on Saturday.
Arby’s restaurants nationwide offered venison sandwiches in a one-day only promotion. Arby’s locations in Dansville and Bath each had “100 portions” to sell. Customers were limited to two sandwiches each. By lunchtime Saturday, the Dansville location had sold about a dozen at $9.99 each. Bath had sold 50, according to Arby’s employees.
Arby’s web site described the sandwiches as “thick-cut venison steak marinated in garlic, salt, and pepper . . . topped with crispy onions and a cabernet steak sauce infused with juniper berries.” The venison, the corporation stated, came from “free-range farmed, grass-fed red deer from New Zealand.”
Selling venison in the Southern Tier during hunting season might seem redundant, but Oak Duke, outdoor writer, Spectator columnist and retired publisher, said that the promotion will help the perception of game meat, “specifically venison because it is shown to now be more ‘main stream.’”
A sandwich purchased at the Dansville Arby’s had an inch-thick slab of venison which was pink inside and tender – a different texture for those familiar with the chain’s thin-sliced roast beef. It lacked the “gamey” taste some people associate with deer meat.
“Many do not know how to properly prepare, age, and cook venison. So it has gotten a bad rap down through the years by those who have tried it when it was prepared like beef or pork,” Duke said. “It's a different meat and needs to be treated in its own special way to make it the delicacy which it is.”
Although this was a single-day promotion, there could be long-term health benefits if fast-food chains swap beef burgers for venison.
“Venison is a great alternative to the other favorite meats because it is virtually fat-free and our society can use a more nutritional alternative to fatty proteins,” Duke said.
An internet search of “venison versus beef” revealed results from both health and hunting web sites touting the benefits of venison. Outdoorlife.com reported that “three ounces of lean beef contains 247 calories and 15 grams of total fat. Three ounces of venison contain 134 calories and only 3 grams of total fat.”
Arby’s nationwide venison event was the result of a five-state experiment in 2016. Perhaps this year’s event will determine whether venison has a permanent place on the menu — or whether customers will prefer to get their venison in the woods or the drive-thru.