Shocked? I can’t imagine why. Harvesting game is a cycle of nature that has been around since the birth of Earth’s animal kingdom.
However taking wild game from field to table is no easy task. It requires considerable skill, dedication, and effort. Anyone who grows vegetables and then preserves their bounty at harvest-time knows this same truth.
Cooking venison is also a learned skill, and it begins at the source.
It’s quality of flavor follows the same thought process as when buying beef from a grocer. Grass-fed cows that have happily grazed in pasture land will taste much better than grain-fed cows stressed out from standing in their own filth in over-crowded corrals.
For example, a deer harvested from a mountainous forest has a radically different diet as compared to a deer who lives amongst farmers’ crops or orchards, and it will impart a “gamier” flavor in its meat.
Our deer meat is of the farmland variety and therefore especially mild in flavor, particularly the does.
Today, I’ve prepared venison steak for tomorrow’s dinner.
Why tomorrow, you ask? Because unless you pressure-can venison in a jar, or cook the tenderloin portion of the deer, venison can be very tough.
There are many ways to tenderize meat, but my favorite way of tenderizing venison steak is to marinate it in wine for up to two days in the refrigerator.
Here’s the marinade I used today for 2 pounds of venison steak:
- 2-3/4 cups dry wine (Russia River Valley Pinot Noir)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tsp. coarse ground, black pepper
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
I combined the steak with the above marinade into a gallon zip-lock bag. It will now sit in my fridge until tomorrow, or even the next day.
When I’m ready to cook, I will extract the steak, pat it dry with a paper towel, and set it aside. Then I’ll strain the marinade and set aside the liquid.
In a frying pan, I’ll saute some minced garlic, chopped mushrooms and sliced onions until they begin to caramelize. Then I’ll add the strained liquid and simmer until it begins to thicken like a sauce.
In a separate pan, my husband will sear the steak – for about 3 minutes per side (but that’s his department). The goal is to not overcook the steak.
The steak can be served with a few spoonfuls of mushroom sauce over top or on the side. This pairs well with roasted potato wedges and a veggie of some kind, like braised broccoli or even a garden salad.
Best of all – thanks to the miraculous process of marination – the steak will be so tender, we will have little need for a sharp knife.
And because the general rule is to always cook with a wine that you enjoy drinking, we’ll wash the whole meal down with whatever remains left in our bottle of Pinot Noir.