Many absurd people treat venison as a meat that requires other kinds of meat to make it more palatable. When did we become such wusses? When I see bacon-wrapped venison tenderloin I want to cry. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into hunting this animal so you can wrap it in some cheap pork you got from the supermarket? What would your deer think about you two-timing it with some two-bit pig? Here are five simple recipes to impress your holiday guests that don’t attempt to hide the richness of venison behind additional fat.
Medieval Spit Roasted Venison
During the Middle Ages, open fire cooking was the standard method of both medieval chefs and the Roman Catholic Church. Follow chef and culinary historian Heston Blumenthal as he spit roasts an entire deer in the medieval style.
Recipe adapted from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook
Corning is an unbelievably simple process and a great weapon in your cooking arsenal. Corning venison is really no different from corning beef. One advantage to venison over beef is that it contains equal amounts of protein but much less fat. It’s basically diet corned beef. The question when it comes to corning is whether or not you want to use nitrates. I say go ahead and use them because your venison will taste slightly better AND, assuming you take the proper precautions, you won’t get botulism.
- 3-5 pound venison roast
- Enough water to submerge your roast in a stock pot (1/2 gallon or 2 quarts)
- 1 cup salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 ounce saltpeter/sodium nitrate
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 3 bay leaves
- 10–15 whole juniper berries
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 6 cloves
- Place everything in your stockpot except the roast and bring to a boil. Remove the heat and cover until your brine has reached room temperature. This will take a couple hours. Pour brine in a large container or 2 gallon Ziploc bag and add the roast.
- The key to getting this step right is to make sure your roast is completely submerged during the brining process. Once submerged, place your roast in the refrigerator for 5–7 days. Feel free to flip the roast or stir the brine every couple of days.
- A week has passed, and you now have corned venison. Well, almost. Next you want to drain the brine and place your roast in a pot with fresh water. Don’t use a ton of water otherwise you’ll dilute the flavor. Cover the pot and simmer for 3–5 hours.
- Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of corned venison. Enjoy hot or cold.
Venison Tacos al Pastor
Recipe adapted from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook
Al Pastor has many different regional variations, but essentially it’s heavily seasoned roast pork (in this case venison) with pineapple and chilies. The only way you can mess this up is by eating it with flour instead of corn tortillas. Honestly, wet cardboard has more flavor than a flour tortilla. Don’t even get me started on whole wheat tortillas—the horror!
- 5 guajillo chiles
- 5 ancho chiles
- 1 chipotle pepper
- 1 white onion
- 1 can pineapple chunks
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 1/2 pounds of boneless deer roast
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- corn tortillas
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add guajillo and ancho chiles. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chiles soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the chiles and discard stem and seeds. Meanwhile, coarsely chop one onion in half; reserve remaining half. Strain pineapples, but keep the juice for the next step.
- Using a food processor or blender, puree all of your chiles, chopped onion, pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, and cumin until smooth. Transfer chile mixture to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring your chile mixture to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Let the mixture sit until cool. Now combine your marinade (mixture), venison cubes, and pineapple chunks in a large container or Ziploc bag, and transfer to refrigerator. Let marinate for up to 24 hours.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. After straining the marinade, cook your pineapple and venison cubes until golden brown.
- Finely dice the other half of your onion and combine with cilantro in a small bowl. Serve on warm tortillas with onion, cilantro, and a spritz of lime.
Nittany Jack’s Preacher Meat and Kale Sandwich
If you don’t already know, venison and dijon mustard are a match made in heaven. The tart, stinging bite of a good dijon is the perfect compliment to the earthy and slightly nutty flavor of venison. The key is to not overcook the venison. You don’t exactly want sashimi, but you also don’t not want sashimi—do you know what I mean? This is my go-to venison dish when I don’t have a ton of time and want something delicious and moderately healthy.
- Venison backstrap or tenderloin (1/4 of a whole backstrap or 1/2 of one loin) sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
- Baguette or ciabatta
- Salt & pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
- Tablespoon of olive oil
- Pickled garlic or one clove of fresh garlic
- Dijon mustard
- Vegetable oil
- Sometimes I like my kale raw, other times I like it sautéed. For sandwich building, however, sautéed kale tends to work better because the moisture helps bind things together. Heat some olive oil on low-medium heat in a small pan. Add your kale and garlic. Once the kales cooks down and starts to wilt, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook for another couple minutes then remove.
- Heat your vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high. Pan sear 2–3 venison slices at a time until rare or medium rare. Remove.
- Now lay your sliced bread face down in the same dirty skillet that you cooked the venison (very important). The bread will toast while it absorbs the remaining venison juices.
- Now slap everything together with some dijon and a touch of horseradish. Wrap the sandwich in a paper towel as they tend to get messy.