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How to Cook Deer Meat: Preparing Venison Steak and Other Ways to Cook Deer

My husband recently went hunting for the first time and was quite successful. Here's how we cooked up some of our venison meat.

Cooking fresh deer steaks and tenderloin on the grill.

Cooking fresh deer steaks and tenderloin on the grill.

Ways to Prepare Venison

This year my husband went deer hunting for the first time in his life. To our surprise, he got a doe on opening day. And even more surprising, he got a second doe the following day. Then just in case, we have a particularly hard winter, he got a third doe a week later. We've had all the deer processed professionally and now are the proud owners of a freezer full of deer steaks, deer chops, deer tenderloin, and lots and lots of ground venison.

Now that we have all this deer meat, we kind of need to know how to cook it! So I solicited several friends with experience cooking with venison. And now I have several tasty ways to serve up venison.

Skillet fried tenderloin and onions, a deer hunters tradition while still at camp. Share it with the whole deer hunting party and it will bring good luck--plus its the best meal they will have the entire trip!

Skillet fried tenderloin and onions, a deer hunters tradition while still at camp. Share it with the whole deer hunting party and it will bring good luck--plus its the best meal they will have the entire trip!

Deer Meat Recipes

First let me start by telling you that we live in Minnesota and our deer are corn-fed. If you did a blind taste test, I highly doubt you would be able to tell the difference between beef steak and venison steak. It is absolutely delicious and not at all "gamey." I've heard venison meat is not always this good, and you might have to use a little more spice to cover up the gaminess if that is the case.

Although I would consider deer to be a "red" meat, it is very lean with almost no fat. In fact, when creating ground venison, it is fairly standard for butchers to add a portion of pork or beef (20% is very common) to the mix so that it can stick together and form burger patties. For many people cutting back on their fat intake or lowering their red meat consumption, venison is a wonderful and tasty alternative to beef.

The "secret" ingredient my husband loves to use is balsamic vinegar. Then he just adds lots of garlic salt, pepper and seasonings.

The "secret" ingredient my husband loves to use is balsamic vinegar. Then he just adds lots of garlic salt, pepper and seasonings.

Marinate in refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Marinate in refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Pass the ketchup?

Pass the ketchup?

Deer Steak on the Grill

The first thing we did when we brought home the venison was to marinate a package of steaks and tenderloin. We were told that the tenderloin is the "filet mignon" of the deer—and I'd have to agree that it was the most delicious cut of them all.

We marinated the meat for 4-6 hours using my husband's simple homemade recipe:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Garlic salt
  • Pepper (lots and lots of pepper!)
  • Basil

We then threw it on the grill with fresh cherry tomatoes and onions from our garden. It is considered a wild game, so you really should cook it to at least medium to well done. It was absolutely delicious, and it's a very lean and healthy source of protein.

Deer Steaks Are Delicious

Whether you use A1, ketchup, or barbeque sauce, nothing beats a fresh grilled steak.

Pan seared venison

Pan seared venison

Venison cheeseburgers

Venison cheeseburgers

Pan Seared Venison

Another delicious way to prepare your venison is using your frying pan. For this scrumptious meal, the deer steaks were cut into smaller pieces, seared on both sides in a pan and then removed. In the same pan, a little olive oil and red wine were used to sauté some button mushrooms and onions. The venison was then served over creamy mashed potatoes made with butter and cream cheese.

Using Ground Venison

Ground venison is as versatile as ground beef. You can make chili, tacos, casseroles, meatloaf, and even burgers.

If someone offers to give you ground venison, I would definitely ask them if this was mixed with beef or pork. If it is not, you might want to consider mixing in some sausage or beef before frying it up (if you want it to stick together, like in the form of a patty or loaf). If you are making chili or tacos, you probably don't need to add anything, just fry it up in the pan like you would hamburger.

Using a jerky gun and dehydrator

Using a jerky gun and dehydrator

Deer jerky

Deer jerky

Deer Jerky Makes a Great Snack

Another great thing you can make with either ground venison or thinly sliced roast is jerky. I have a jerky gun, so I prefer to use the ground deer. I used 3 pounds of ground venison, and I had a seasoning kit that contained not only the seasoning but also the cure. Personally, I like a lot of flavor in my jerky, so I usually add lots of extra black pepper and soy sauce or garlic salt. You mixed it into the ground burger and let it "marinate" for 24 hours.

Then, using the jerky gun, you create the jerky sticks and dehydrate them. I use a dehydrator for about 5-6 hours. Some people use an oven on low heat, but the dehydrator takes some of the guesswork out of it, and you don't have to use your oven, which heats up your kitchen and uses more energy or fuel.

The jerky does not need to be refrigerated; just put it in an airtight container, and it can last for months. Of course, in our household, it lasted for less than a week.

More Recipes to Come

Since I still have a freezer full of meat, I plan on expanding my venison repertoire. I want to experiment with the chops, and I know that there are some great crock pot recipes out there yet to be discovered.

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment!