How to Cook Venison

I'm looking for ways to cook venison steaks. Can you help me? Thanks,
-- Charlene


Dear Charlene:
Wild game tends to be very lean, and consequently can be tough and dry if not cooked properly. Also, depending on the age of the deer, the meat may be very "gamey" in flavor.

For the deer steaks, trim off any visible fat, which can have a very strong flavor, then marinate. This will help to tenderize the meat and to tame some of the game flavor. My absolute favorite for deer steaks is a teriyaki marinade:

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all together and put the meat in at least 8 to 12 hours ahead of cooking. Turn a couple of times. The tougher the meat, the longer you marinate!

Then grill as you would a steak. Venison is best grilled, since it allows any fat to drip away from the meat, taking away the strong flavor and leaving only the unique and delicious flavor of the game meat. Do not pan fry!

As for the ground meat, use it for the same things you use ground beef for -- except that you'll often need to add a little ground pork to help add a bit of fat, since it is so lean. Prepare your usual meatloaf, for instance, using three fourths ground venison and one fourth ground pork. Italian meatballs can be made the same way. In our house, venison chili is a New Year's Eve tradition for when the crowds come back in from celebrating "First Night" downtown. Top it off with low-fat sour cream and chopped olives and scallions.

You may also want to borrow a cookbook on wild game from your local library. L.L. Bean has a great one called The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. It has an interesting section on venison, including the different cuts and lots of yummy recipes.

I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for writing,

Sue Gilbert, M.S., Nutritionist

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