While traveling the countryside the past couple of decades, sharing my personal brand of wild-game cooking, I’ve run across many people who just don’t like venison. If I had to guess what went wrong, somebody served them an over-cooked “gamey” piece of improperly prepared deer meat.
Venison has about five times less fat than beef, so it’s not nearly as forgiving as a marbled beef ribeye. Fat also equals flavor and juiciness. If you overcook a venison steak, it will be dry and livery.
This is my go-to recipe when faced with the challenge of convincing people that if their venison doesn’t taste good, don’t blame the deer. I cook the meat rare to medium-rare and cover it with some of the dark, rich sauce, just in case they pale at the sight of red, not overcooked, grayish meat.
If you have tenderloins or backstrap medallions, that will increase your chances of impressing those who are game-shy. Trimmed hindquarter steaks can be tenderized and sliced across the grain before serving, but please don’t overcook them. If you are accustomed to eating your red meats on the well-done side, please, just once, try it cooked medium-rare.
So You Don’t Like Venison?
- 2 lbs trimmed venison medallions, about 4 inches wide by ½ inch thick
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp plum preserves
- 3 tbsp chilled butter, cut into pieces
- ¾ cup fresh berries, any kind
- ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles (optional, if you like blue cheese)
- Season meat evenly with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown, about 1 to 2 minutes each side, but not past rare. Add rosemary, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and plum preserves. Remove meat after 1 minute and keep warm.
- Reduce liquid to a few tablespoons. Whisk in chilled butter until melted. Immediately remove pan from heat, and stir in berries. Arrange medallions on plates, spoon sauce over and, if desired, top with blue cheese crumbles.