The rut is winding down, the weather’s cold, and there’s a whole heap of venison in the freezer. If you had a successful hunt this year, or simply got your hands on some fresh venison, you’re in for some hearty (but healthy) meals this winter. Venison is a lean meat and requires a bit of special treatment while being prepared, but done right it’s just as good as anything you can buy at the grocery store. Probably better. It’s fresh, it’s organic, and for most hunters, it’s hard-won.
Inspired by some of the delicious venison meals my wife and I have prepared — after my successful bowhunt this October — I’ve compiled my six favorite recipes.
1. Grilled Venison Steak
Depending on how it’s processed, a deer might yield a dozen or more thick but lean steaks. There are numerous ways to prepare these, but my favorite has to be a slow marination followed by quick grilling at high heat.
Because of the low fat content, venison grills well and usually won’t cause flare-ups. If it’s frozen, defrost in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
A good marinade goes a long way to lock in the juices and give the meat a good flavor.
Easy Venison Marinade Recipe
Here’s an easy marinade to try first. These measurements are for a venison steak in the 1.5 pound range, so adjust accordingly:
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons minced/chopped onion or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl or cup that pours well.
- Place the venison steak in a 1-gallon ziploc bag, then put the bag in a casserole dish or jar.
- Pour in the marinade, coating the steak as well as you can.
- Refrigerate and marinate for at least 4 hours. Overnight (12 hours) is even better. Flip the steak halfway through.
- Remove and put on an already-hot grill. No need to baste or anything else.
- Grill over high heat, 4-6 minutes per side, depending on your doneness preference. It’s a good idea to have a meat thermometer on hand to monitor the temperature. Venison has a reddish color, so it’s harder to tell than beef when it’s done.
2. Ground Venison Lasagna
The processor gave me more ground venison than any other cut, and this is to be expected. Ground venison freezes hard and keeps well; you can use it for nearly any recipe where you might otherwise have ground beef or ground turkey.
When browning ground venison, you should provide some vegetable oil or butter (1-2 teaspoons per pound) since the lean meat produces very little oil on its own.
Lasagna is a good option for introducing ground venison to the family, especially if they love lasagna made with ground beef. By the time you have the noodles, the sauce, the ricotta cheese, and some melted cheese on top, it’s hard to truly see or taste the meat anyway. We made a full tray lasagna with classic (boiled) noodles, but this would also work with no-bake noodles.
- 1 pound of ground venison, browned in pan
- 1 (9 ounce) box of no-boil lasagna noodles
- 2 eggs
- 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 jar pasta sauce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Blend in ALL of the ricotta cheese, and half (2 cups) of the mozzarella. Set this aside, and get out the 9×13″ pan. Here are the layers you’ll build (bottom to top).
- Spread about 1/3 of the pasta sauce (1 cup) on the bottom. Lay 4 uncooked noodles on top.
- Pile on 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, half of the meat, 1 cup mozzarella, and 1 cup of sauce.
- Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture, and 1 1/2 cups sauce.
- Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and remained meat, 1 cup of sauce.
- For top layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake for about an hour (60 minutes). Uncover and leave in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese on top is nice and brown. Then you pull out the lasagna and let stand for at least 10 minutes. Cut, serve, and enjoy. Share some with a neighbor, as we did. Everybody loves lasagna, right?
3. Hearty Venison Stew
The roast and tenderloin cuts of venison are ideal for cooking in the crockpot. These meals are best on a cold day when you can let them stew for several hours.
First, prepare beef gravy by dissolving 2 bouillon cubes in 2 cups of boiling water. In a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of corn starch into 1/4 cup of cold water. Add this to the boiling water to thicken it.
- 1 pound of venison roast or tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- Seasoning of choice (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper)
- Beef gravy from above
- Vegetables of choice (carrots, potatoes, celery)
- Thaw the venison roast or tenderloin for 24 hours in the refrigerator
- Dump all ingredients into the crockpot, cover, and cook on HIGH for at least 4 hours.
4. Venison Chili
Here’s another great use of ground venison: substitute it for ground beef in your favorite chili recipe. It’s another thing you can do in the crock pot, if you allow a few hours for stewing. Here’s ours.
- 1 pound of ground venison, browned
- 2 cans of dark red kidney beans
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 onion, finely chopped (optional)
- 1.5 tablespoons of chili seasoning
- Brown the venison in a frying pan. Rinse with cool water.
- Return meat to pan, add a bit of water and the chili seasoning.
- Simmer for a few minutes
- Add the meat and the other ingredients to the crock pot.
- Cook in the crock pot on low for at least 3-4 hours.