For Many, You Can’t Beat Properly Prepared Venison
As the deer season draws to a close (Jan. 7 around here and Jan. 21 in South Texas), you may be asking yourself what should you do with that freezer full of venison?
Deer meat can be tasty in addition to providing that satisfying pioneer sense of accomplishment from bringing home the meat on the table. You probably already have a favorite chili recipe and a mix of venison, hamburger and pork sausage blesses many breakfast tables in these parts. These recipes will allow you to up your game – pun intended.
Venison with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms
By Hank Shaw
Dandelion leaves (optional, for garnish)
Start by caramelizing the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onions and toss to coat. Cover the onions, turn the heat down and cook slowly, stirring once in a while. You are looking for them to slowly soften and brown, not scorch on the edges. After 10 minutes or so, they’ll start to get soft. Sprinkle salt over them and let them cook some more. When they are just starting to brown, add the thyme and honey. Cook until they are a nice brown. Remove and set aside. The onions can be made in advance.
While the onions are cooking, take the venison out of the fridge and salt it well. Let it come to room temperature the whole time you are cooking the onions; this is especially important if you are using elk or moose backstrap, which is thick. When the onions are done, wipe out the pan and add the remaining butter. Pat the venison dry with a paper towel and sear it over medium-high heat, turning it to make sure all sides are well browned. Use the finger test for doneness to determine when to take it out of the pan. Let the meat rest on a cutting board. If you have some, roll the venison in the porcini powder as it rests.
While the venison is resting, put the mushrooms in the pan and turn the heat to high. Sear the mushrooms until they release their water; this might not happen with hen of the woods. When the water has almost boiled away or when the mushrooms begin to brown, add some more butter and saute hard until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Salt them as they cook.
Once the mushrooms are ready, add back the caramelized onions and the parsley and toss to combine. Heat through and put some on everyone’s plate. Add the dandelion leaves if you are using them. Slice the venison into medallions and serve. Serve this with potatoes of some kind, good bread — black pumpernickel is especially good — or polenta. You’ll want a nice red wine, too, or maybe a pale ale.
Chicken-Fried Venison, Waffles & Serrano Honey
By Jess Pryles
1/4 cup honey
- Using a meat mallet or tenderizer, bash the venison steaks evenly to thin them out. Sprinkle with salt on both sides to season.
- In a shallow bowl, combine flour, salt, garlic powder, pepper, nutmeg & paprika. In a second bowl, whisk the egg and milk to combine.
- In a Dutch oven or deep pan, heat oil on the stove. It will be ready to use when it reaches 325f.
- Taking each steak, place in flour mix, then transfer to egg mix, then back to flour mix to create a coating. Place each coated steak on a foil lined tray ready for frying.
- Once oil is at temperature, gently place 2-3 steaks in to cook, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry a few minutes per side until golden brown, then remove from oil and place on rack to cool for 5 minutes.
- In a small pan, combine the honey and the serrano chili. Gently warm until honey has thinned to a syrupy consistency. Note: leaving this mix on the heat too long will wilt the chilies – they’ll still taste good but won’t look as fresh. If you prefer a less spicy honey, remove the chili seeds before steeping.
- Warm the waffles and use one and a half per plate. Top with three pieces of fried venison, and drizzle with serrano honey. Serve immediately.
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