Skip to main content

Simple Venison Prep and Recipes Create the Best Table Fare

You don't need to be an Iron Chef to cook great venison; sometimes all a person needs is good meat care, a little salt and pepper, and a hot grill to serve up a world-class meal

Simple Venison Prep and Recipes Create the Best Table Fare
When preparing venison for the grill, like these backstrap steaks, a thicker cut will help retain moisture within the meat. (Lynn Burkhead photo)
Print Recipe

THIS ARTICLE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Moultrie

Like nearly every other deer hunter I know in my home state of Texas, I dream of big buck antlers gracing my wall.

You know, big antlers that were procured from a hunting session where the sudden flash of headbones winding across a mesquite flat, a prickly-pear-choked sendero or an acorn studded river bottom sends the hunter's adrenaline to redline levels, all as legal shooting light finally arrives on a frosty November or December dawn.

But if the truth is known, I also dream about an ample supply of venison backstraps, steaks and sausage links sizzling on my backyard grill over the months that follow a deer season.


And not just in the middle of the spring and summer, mind you.


In fact, just recently, my youngest son got the meat grinder out, ground up some venison in the freezer and fired up the grill out on the back deck.

Grilled venison burgers ... in the month of December as the arrival of the New Year approaches.

The real point here is if my hunting license is still filled with unused tags by late December, my attention will quickly turn.

And that's to the pursuit of a trophy of another kind before the sun sets on another year of deer hunting.


And that's the art of filling the freezer, or making meat as the saying goes, to secure some fine eating for several months to come.

Something tells me I’m not alone in that pursuit either.

"Probably 95 percent of the hunters (out there) are not trophy hunters," agreed Roy Welch, a longtime Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist, in a conversation we had about the table fare aspect of whitetail hunting.


"Most are out there to shoot a deer because they want to eat it, to either steak it out or make sausage out of it."

"If you take care of the meat, it's some of the best meat that you'll ever eat," he added.

Amen to that, especially the delectable German smoked sausages that come from meat markets and deer processors located in various parts of my home state.

Editor's Note: My personal favorite are the various venison sausages that come from Fischer's Meat Market in the Red River Valley town of Muenster, Texas, located a half-hour to the west of Gainesville.

While I love to eat deer sausage as much as anybody, I must admit that there may be no finer meal in the world than a mouth-watering venison steak hot off the grill, especially one that has been cooked over a mesquite wood fueled fire.

If that’s your culinary desire too, Welch indicates that there are a few keys to follow for great cuts of deer meat to find their way to your table.

First, be sure that your steaks aren't sliced too thin. That's because while thin cuts of venison may give a hunter more servings per freezer package, it also will lead to venison that will dry out too quickly for many cooking methods.

"For backstrap, I'll typically cut them ½ to ¾ inches thick," said Welch.

Not only is the thickness of a piece of venison one key to good eating, so too is the way that such a deer steak is actually sliced.

"For ham steaks, if you don't muscle them out, you will wind up with meat in your steak that has grain going two or three different ways and is hard to cook properly," said Welch.

"When you cut meat with the grain, it tends to be tougher than when you cut it cross grain," he added.

"Some processors take the ham, bone and all, and run it through a band saw and cut steaks. Personally, I don't like that. When you muscle a ham out, it's much easier to make tender steaks out of it."

Aside from the actual butchering process, another key to a hot and juicy deer steak is to properly cook such a lean piece of meat in the first place.

For Welch, that means keeping the cut moist through either marinating it thoroughly or wrapping it in foil, grilling it over a hot fire (mesquite wood gives just about any cut of meat a great flavor in my opinion) and cooking this wild meat very quickly.

"My daddy told me if you’re going to cook a steak, build a hot fire, put it on for eight minutes and get it off," said Welch, noting that such cooking times will have to be reduced a bit to get the desired hot pink center in a leaner cut of venison.

"You can overcook (venison) real easily," he added. "The longer it stays on there (the grill), the drier and tougher it will get. If you want your meat well done, then chicken fry it."

To keep venison from drying out, Welch also recommends another couple of alternative cooking methods to chefs taking their woodsy protein into the kitchen.

"For tenderloins, I'll wrap it in foil and put in some butter, seasoning and garlic. It stays moist and tender that way," he said. "You can do a ham in the same fashion so it will keep some type of moisture in there. It steams and the meat stays moist.

"You can also roast a ham by putting it in a roaster (or crock-pot) with vegetables," he added. "You can keep it extremely moist in that environment."

A final cooking method that Welch highly recommends is the aforementioned chicken-fried version of venison, a culinary staple in many a Lone Star state kitchen.

"I guess we’ve eaten deer meat about every way you can cook it," said Welch. "To me, there’s nothing better than a batch of fried backstrap with milk gravy and cathead biscuits.

"It may not be all that healthy, but it sure tastes good."

While that's a great way to enjoy venison deep in the heart of Texas, a similar method of frying up venison is utilized by the Iowa-based Whitetail Freaks, Don and Kandi Kisky.

With several bucks hitting the ground on the Kisky farms each year, the Outdoor Channel hunting couple gets to sample plenty of corn-fed venison that fills their freezer up each year.

"One of our favorite ways to cook venison is to fry it up," said Kandi. "We're pretty simple, we like to use pancake batter for our fried venison. Dredge it in the flour with a little salt and pepper and maybe a little bit of hot sauce."

Who needs waffles and chicken when there's pancakes and fried venison to be eaten?

While fried venison is good just about anywhere it is prepared, Kisky's fellow Midwestern deer hunting neighbor and Outdoor Channel hunting personality, Missouri based Mark Drury, loves to smoke his venison cuts.

"I love to smoke those inside tenders after marinating them in Dale's Sauce for three hours," said Drury. "I set the smoker to 225 degrees and then cook them to an internal temperature of 170 degrees. It's fantastic!"

When handled properly in the field, in the butcher shop and in the kitchen, that's the goal of all deer hunters, to hear the word "Fantastic!" as the first bite is taken.

Because there can be no higher compliment to a hunter turned chef than in taking the art of making meat – deer hunting style – and turning these wild, organic forms of protein into utterly delectable table fare.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021 are several hunter-defined products, such as the Excalibur TwinStrike Crossbow, BowTech Solution and Solution SS Bows, TightSpot Pivot 2.5 Quiver, Ripcord Cage and Code Red X arrowrests, and Black Gold Pro FX and Pro Hunter HD sights.

A Bolt Action from Benelli?

A Bolt Action from Benelli?

We know what you're thinking: Isn't Benelli a shotgun company? Of course it is, but decades of shotgun manufacturing actually put Benelli in a unique position to redefine what a hunting rifle should be. Episode 1 reviews some company history to explain how this all came about.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

Get ready to braise ground venison with all the traditional chili ingredients, directly on the grill, for a smokin' hot take on this comfort food classic.Smoked Venison Chili Recipe Wild Game

Smoked Venison Chili Recipe

Eva Shockey - October 16, 2020

Get ready to braise ground venison with all the traditional chili ingredients, directly on the...

The Havoc RS440 XERO, Havoc RS440 and Siege RS410 bring cutting-edge tech to your hunt.New for 2021 from TenPoint Crossbows Crossbows

New for 2021 from TenPoint Crossbows

Game and Fish Staff - December 29, 2020

The Havoc RS440 XERO, Havoc RS440 and Siege RS410 bring cutting-edge tech to your hunt.

Want to learn how to cook tasty walleye? This recipe includes three easy methods (on a grill, in a foil packet, and on a stovetop) that are sure to result in a delicious lunch or supper.Grilled Walleye Recipe Fish

Grilled Walleye Recipe

Raschell Rule - August 12, 2014

Want to learn how to cook tasty walleye? This recipe includes three easy methods (on a grill,...

See More Trending Articles

More Wild Game

This fall recipe is perfect for tougher cuts of venison that are best cooked “low and slow.”Dutch Oven Venison and Pumpkin Stew Recipe Wild Game

Dutch Oven Venison and Pumpkin Stew Recipe

Scott Leysath, "The Sporting Chef" - November 06, 2020

This fall recipe is perfect for tougher cuts of venison that are best cooked “low and slow.”

Start a new tradition this holiday with this glazed goose recipe served with warm gravy.Holiday Glazed Goose and Gravy Recipe Wild Game

Holiday Glazed Goose and Gravy Recipe

Raschell Rule - December 10, 2020

Start a new tradition this holiday with this glazed goose recipe served with warm gravy.

For a succulent and moist turkey, use this homemade brine recipe.Best Homemade Turkey Brine Recipe Wild Game

Best Homemade Turkey Brine Recipe

Raschell Rule - November 17, 2020

For a succulent and moist turkey, use this homemade brine recipe.

Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe.Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe Wild Game

Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe

Allie Doran - October 30, 2020

Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe.

See More Wild Game

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now