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Jan 20, 2009 11:23 AM

How should I prepare Venison steaks and chops?

I just got a few venison steaks and chops from my neighbor who hunted them himself. I'm not sure how to prepare them. I've had venison steak with cranberry-port reduction at a French restaurant, and it was fabulous, so I'm hoping to go in this direction, rather than using it in a stew. Any ideas?

Oh - and no grilling please. We have over 3' of snow on our deck...


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  1. For the steak: as long as you know how to cook a regular not-so-great beef steak, you can cook venison steaks.But the trick is you don't know the pedigree so you have to do a test-cook.

    I would try a good standard marinade first (try somethng gingery) and then quick-fry up in a cast-iron skillet with onions. You won't really know what you've got to work with until you test-fry the first one. If its really tender, you can treat it more gently next time.

    For the chops: I'd be inclined to stew, but others may chime in.

    1. Be aware that venison tends to have ZERO fat on it, so do not over cook it. It will cook faster than most regular beef steaks that you're used to for instance. Also, you might need some clarification on what exactly these cuts are. "Steaks" is rather vague.

      As for a recipe, the one you mentioned sounds great. Go for it.

      And sorry to sound harsh LJS, but stewing chops is probably the worst idea ever. Venison chops (think lamb chops) are one of the most prized parts of the animal. Why you would try to cook them into oblivion in some sort of stew or braise is beyond me...

      In any case, this meat is going to be different from your restaurant experience. Animals for restaurant sales are farm raised, this one was wild. As a result, it will be a little stronger tasting, but you should like it. For the chops, you will want to aim for a medium rare, or no more than medium cooking temp. Any more than that and you will enter livery shoe leather territory, so pay attention to the food while it's cooking.

      4 Replies
      1. re: HaagenDazs

        I bow to your superior knowledge when it comes to the chops, HD...

        My experience has been from a few tough old white-tail (only shot during a culling and therefore often old as they have no natural predators in our area). The chops on these animals are fatted with a yellow fat, because of their age and they need de-fatting and tenderizing and marinating to use as chops, just easier to stew at that stage. But I did suggest others should chime in!

        I hope that RosemaryHoney gets back to us to let us know how it went.

        1. re: LJS

          Yikes, that poor old deer doesn't sound very appetizing, but I see exactly why you suggested that now. The deer we get here in N. Georgia don't have much in the way of natural predators either (unless you count car bumpers) but I've never seen deer meat streaked with fat like you're mentioning.

          1. re: HaagenDazs

            I think it is the cold winters that make the difference: Nova Scotia is my home though I was brought up in Newfoundland...don't even get me started on how to wrestle moose meat into tender submission!

            1. re: LJS

              Yeah - cold makes everything fatty. Sometimes good (salmon) sometimes bad (venison).

              Moose, huh?! Should we call you LJSP? (Palin) Only kidding. ;-)

      2. I have made this many times and it is delicious--the recipe calls for tenderloin, but you can certainly adapt it to steaks or chops.

        1. My father & husband are both hunters. I've got a freezer full of venison to cook, just like last year. If the steaks are thin, you're good. If they aren't thin (think milanesa) then you'd want to tenderize them before cooking. Because venison is so lean the meat tends toward toughness. I'd go with seasoning them with salt, ground pepper and any other spice you'd use on a beef steak and a quick pan fry before topping with either the cranberry-port reduction (sounds fab) or old school brown onion gravy, if you want to be more casual.

          I usually chicken fry the chops but then I'm in Austin where a good chicken fried steak, chop, chicken, etc is prized. When served with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus, my family is happy. Everyone has their favorite ways to prepare venison cuts, though.

          1. This is a recipe from the French Laundry. It is someones rendition of it but I could not find the original online for you. A little laborious but so so yummy! :)
            Happy eating :), Oana