Savoring Venison

By Tony Weiss | September 2, 2004
From Missouri Conservationist: Sep 2004

Even though deer meat is healthy and nutritious, a lot of families don't savor the thought of dad filling their freezer with venison. That's probably because they've never experienced venison at its best.

Many hunters have most of their venison made into jerky and sausage, even though this greatly increases the cost for processing. Often they end up with more jerky and sausage than they can stomach and end up giving some of it away. Also, such meat products are salty and high in fat.

To get the most nutritional and economic value from your deer, have it processed into cuts that are easiest to prepare.

Treat the tenderloins as something special. They are the strips from inside the lower back. (My butcher calls them catfish because of their shape.) These two pieces can be sliced into small, 1-inch thick medallions and cooked like tiny steaks. They are so tender that marinating is unnecessary. If you want to impress someone with how good deer can taste, serve them venison tenderloins.

Loin chops are another choice cut. Our family likes chops grilled 5 to 7 minutes per side, or pan fried. However, you must fillet them from the bone, and also trim away most of the fat and gristle to eliminate gaminess. Some chops will end up as several smaller pieces as you trim away all white tissue. Marinating chops usually isn't necessary if they came from a young deer.

Every cut of deer will taste better if you trim away all white tissue, including bone, fat, cartilage and tendons before cooking.

Marinades usually enhance the flavor of venison, Marinating also makes the meat juicier and more tender. You can purchase prepared marinades, or just mix up a concoction with whatever is in the refrigerator. Some good marinades consist of one or more of these:

  • Italian salad dressing (oil & vinegar)
  • Teriyaki or Worcestershire sauce
  • Wine
  • Lemon juice
  • Ginger ale
  • Fruit juice
  • Soy sauce

Exploit the spice rack. Add salt, pepper, garlic, whatever sounds good. Marinate your meat from 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Round steaks from the rear legs are lean, tasty and easy to cook. They are a little less tender than chops, so we always marinate them. We then fry them as we would chops. Sometimes we slice them into thin strips for oriental stir-fry dishes, or use them to make stroganoff.

Have the rest of the deer ground up, as lean as possible. Two-pound packages of lean, ground venison are perfect for preparing lasagna, spaghetti sauce or chili. Used this way, few people can tell the difference between venison and beef.

If you want to make burgers, you should mix the lean venison with an equal amount of ground beef. Burgers composed of 100-percent venison will be too dry.

Soups and stews are also excellent ways to prepare venison. The ingredients of stews and soups are limited only by your imagination. A stew made from cubes or thin strips of venison mixed with brown beans, wild rice, onions and potatoes is especially good during the winter. If you don't eat it all in one sitting, you'll find that the flavor of a stew improves with a day or two in the refrigerator as the flavors of the various components meld.

If, despite your best culinary enticements, your family still declines to dine on the purest, leanest red meat available, look into donating your deer to the Share the Harvest program. This program exists to provide nutritious protein to needy families. Find out more about the Share the Harvest Program in the current Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet or go to <>.

Venison CHOPS

Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Roll chops in equal amounts of seasoned flour and Italian bread crumbs. Brown each side about 5 minutes.

Teriyaki Marinade FOR VENISON

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp. ketchup

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped

1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix well, pour into a large zip-type bag, add venison tenderloin and seal. Turn several times to make sure all of the meat is covered. Marinate in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours. (The fresh ginger breaks down the meat so it is less tough.)

Steve Rosner's FAMOUS CHILI

1 or 2 lbs. ground venison or hamburger

1 large onion, chopped

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

1 tbsp. granulated garlic

1/2 tsp. McCormick Seasoned Pepper Blend

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. cumin

1 8-oz. can tomato sauce

1 4-oz. can mushroom pieces, drained

1 6-oz. can tomato paste

1 qt. home canned tomatoes

3 -4 cans mild chili beans, undrained

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes with chilis and peppers (or Italian spicy tomatoes)

In tall stockpot, brown burger and chopped onion, add cumin and chili powder to meat as it browns. Add vinegar, granulated garlic, 4 shakes of Tabasco sauce and seasoned pepper blend.

Add tomato paste, sauce, canned tomatoes and diced tomato/pepper mix. Stir and simmer 15 minutes. Add mushroom pieces, drained, and chili beans.

Set out bowls, crackers, cheese and sour cream to top the steaming chili.

Venison Steaks with MADEIRA SAUCE

2 - 2 1/2 lb. venison round steaks (Seal in zip-type bag with 3 cups milk and soak overnight.) Trim steaks to remove tallow and membranes.

Seasoned Flour:

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. seasoned salt

1/4 tsp. dried ginger

1/4tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Heat 2 tbsp. butter + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to sizzling.

Dredge venison steaks in seasoned flour, place in hot skillet. Sear the first side until crispy, turn and cook the other side.

Remove steaks, keep warm.

Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup Madeira wine, add 1 cup red currant jelly and stir until hot. Pour into sauce boat and serve with steaks.

Roast Venison Loin with CRANBERRY SAUCE

Start this project 24 to 48 hours before serving.

1 small lemon sliced into thirds

2 thick slices of orange

2 slices of peeled fresh ginger

1 1/2cup sugar

1 small bay leaf

Place the above ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and boil uncovered, until syrupy, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir 2 cups fresh cranberries (reserve 5 berries) and a jigger of gin into the syrup. Pour into glass bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring twice. Pierce reserved berries, place in small glass bowl, pour gin over them and let them marinate separately.

Marinate 4 pounds of venison tenderloin for 24 - 48 hours in mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed with 1 qt. water. Discard liquid and rinse well after marinating.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the venison with olive oil, salt, pepper and five chopped cranberries. Press the seasoning into the meat. Set the loin on a rack in roasting pan, cover with foil and roast until inner temperature reaches 135 degrees on meat thermometer.

While venison is cooking, discard bay leaf, lemon, ginger and orange slices. Puree half the cranberries and half the liquid until smooth.

Pour 2 cups dry red wine into saucepan, heat to boiling, reduce to 1/2 cup (boil about 5 minutes). Add 2 cups beef stock to reduction, bring to a boil, add the cranberry puree, simmer, uncovered until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Strain the remaining cranberries and add them to the sauce with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsp. cold butter cut into pieces. Stir any pan juices into sauce mixture. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

Venison ROAST

5-lbs. venison roast

1/4 tsp. Pepper

2 tbsp. seasoned salt

3 stalks celery

1 large onion, halved

1 apple, cored and quartered

4 carrots

1 orange, cut in half

8 ozs. Italian salad dressing

1 cup water

1 cup red wine

Rinse and dry venison, trim any membranes or tallow from roast. Season venison with salt and pepper. Place in square plastic container. Add remaining ingredients and marinate overnight. Pour into baker, cover with lid and bake at 250 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
Art Director - Ara Clark
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Circulation - Laura Scheuler