Tips for Cooking Venison

Since venison is low in fat, over-cooking will cause toughness. Preheat the oven, grill or pan before cooking. Do not add salt to venison because it will draw out the meat juices, preventing browning, and resulting in dry meat. Brush the venison with oil to seal in the meat flavor and to prevent the meat from drying out. Spices and herbs can be used as well as marinades and wines.

Venison is very lean and therefore shrinkage is minimal. Less venison is needed because the meat is very dense. Portion sizes can be smaller than for other meats.

Some people add beef suet or pork lard to ground venison to add moisture. This will change the taste and add unnecessary fat to the meat. Instead, consider adding quick oatmeal, rice crispy cereal or steel-cut barley or oats – this will retain the flavor and moisture, but will not change the quality or taste of the product.

If you got your venison from the wild and it has a strong “gamey” taste to it, try the following:

  • Soak the meat in salted water, milk, buttermilk or vinegar to remove blood from the flesh.
  • Age the meat under refrigeration for 3 to 7 days to enhance tenderness.
  • Soak meat in marinades containing wine or vinegar with the heavier flavors of soy or garlic.
  • Serve the meat with sweet or spicy sauces as condiments to temper the wild taste.
  • Trim fat from game meats to remove a major source of the wild flavor.

Cooking tips

Here are some specific cooking tips for European Elk (Red Deer), however these suggestions apply to most kinds of venison:

  1. Do not overcook. The longer you cook red deer, the more it is likely to become dry.
  2. Quality European Elk “red deer” should be cooked to no more than 130 to 140 degrees of internal temperature. At 150 degrees the meat starts to dry out, due to the lack of fat. The use of a meat thermometer is the best way to determine that the meat, has reached the desired degree of doneness. Let the meat rest in the juices, covered, for 10 – 15 minutes, before serving.
  3. Frying/browning should be done very quickly – do not over cook. Again, let rest, covered before serving.
  4. When broiling and grilling, you should cook to no more than rare or at the most, medium rare. When you need to serve to someone who prefers well-done, marinating the meat in your favorite sauce will help keep the meat deliciously tender. Adding moisture when grilling quality red deer is not necessary. But, you may wish to spread a small amount of butter or cooking oil onto the surface prior to cooking. After broiling or grilling let the meat stand for about 8 minutes before serving so that the flavorful juices can accumulate.
  5. Stews and pot roasts should be cooked very slowly and at low temperature settings. Crock pots are great.
  6. Slow cooked oven roasts have a tendency to become dry when roasting. Frequent basting is the principle method of retaining moisture. Another methods is to keep the roast covered. Flavors can be added to the roast by injecting it with liquids such as wine, fruit juices, light cooking oil, melted butter, or a marinade and allowed to set in the refrigerator for several hours.
  7. Use tongs when turning or picking up meat. A fork will pierce the meat and cause some of the flavorful juices to escape during cooking.
  8. Most alcohol used in recipes from wine evaporate during cooking.
  9. Mushrooms add B vitamins. Bell peppers add fiber and vitamin C. Green onions are rich in potassium and a good source of vitamin C.
  10. If you need to cut the steak into strips, before cooking, first cut against the grain into thin slices. Then stack slices and cut them into 1/4 inch thick strips. Cutting is easier if steak is slightly frozen.
  11. High quality young farm-raised red deer DOES NOT need to be marinated to change the texture or to mask the flavor. However, a light marinate does help to keep the meat moist and enhances the flavor. Farm-raised venison is tender and does not have any “wild” taste.

Nutritional information

Venison is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than most meats. This is appealing to a growing number of consumers looking for alternatives to traditional beef and pork.

Per 100 gram portion Calories Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Protein (mg)
Venison, loin cut 159 3.30 66 25
Beef, bottom round and lean 214 9.76 92 31
Ground beef 265 18.40 85 24
Pork shoulder cut and lean 219 10.64 101 29
Lamb leg roast and lean 178 7.62 83 25
Veal cutlet 213 10.35 125 26
Chicken breast 159 3.42 83 31
Turkey (light meat) 154 3.45 68 29
Salmon (pink) 138 5.75 39 20
Scallops (breaded) 215 11.00 77 17