×
×

Cast Iron Venison Recipes

article image
by Adobestock/Simon Booth

This past September, I made the call to my wife, Elaine, that I love to give and she’s always thrilled to receive: “I just killed my first deer of the season. Get ready to do some butchering.”

When I harvest a deer with a bow, and then Elaine and I work together to turn the meat into edible cuts, we experience one of the many joys of living a sustainable lifestyle. Adding to the experience is our regular use of timeless cast-iron pots and skillets to prepare that meat in various ways.

Because it’s so lean, venison is ideal for preparation in cast-iron cookware. The oil in seasoned pots or skillets, plus the oil from a recipe, helps keep the lean meat moist, unlike grilling and other methods of preparation that can dry it out. (To expand your venison options, check out our article “Do’s and Don’ts of Cooking with Deer Heart” in the September/October 2020 issue.)

Here are some of our favorite venison recipes made in cast-iron cookware using ground meat, tenderloin, steaks, and roasts.

Dutch Oven Cottage Pie

Dutch-Oven-Cottage-Pie

Yield: 5 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds gold potatoes
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots

Directions

  1. Peel and slice potatoes. Place in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt to cooking water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes. Mash, or run through a food processor. Combine potatoes with melted butter. Stir in milk, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Set mashed potatoes aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Heat a Dutch oven on stovetop over medium heat. Add oil. Add venison and onions, and cook until venison is browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, stirring to mix.
  5. Sprinkle with flour, and then stir to combine. Cook 1 minute, and then add broth and remaining vegetables. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste broth, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spoon mashed potatoes over meat and vegetable mix in Dutch oven. Place dish uncovered into oven, and bake 40 to 45 minutes. If potato topping isn’t golden, change oven setting to broil and allow another minute or two of cooking time. Watch closely to prevent overcooking.
  7. Remove from oven, and let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

 

Skillet-Seared Tenderloin

Pan-Seared-Tenderloin

When we process our own deer, we package the bottom and top loins as log-shaped strips of meat, removing any fat, visible sinew, and bloody spots. These logs vary in size, from an inch or two thick to 3 or 4 inches, depending on the age and size of the deer.

For this recipe, we start with those logs of venison. We keep one log intact, and slice the others into medallions about 1/2 to 3⁄4 inch thick. We tenderize the medallions with a meat tenderizer, and marinate both logs and medallions for a day.

Because it’s not fatty, venison can quickly go from undercooked to dry and tough, so we’ve found that it’s best to leave the meat with a pink center. Cooking it at a temperature of 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit usually does the trick; we prefer right around 135 degrees. After cooking, wrap the meat in foil for about 10 minutes and let it rest, allowing any juices to reabsorb. This rest period is especially important when cooking a whole tenderloin.

Yield: 5 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon steak sauce (we use A.1.)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds venison tenderloin, left whole or cut into medallions
  • Vegetable oil for coating skillet

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except tenderloin and vegetable oil to make marinade. Place tenderloin in a large dish, and pour marinade over top. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 to 8 hours.
  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium, and add a light coating of vegetable oil. The oil will visibly shimmer when the skillet becomes hot enough.
  3. Add tenderloin to the skillet; don’t overcrowd the meat. (Overcrowding can cause the heat to drop, creating steam instead of the preferred searing.) If you need to cook in batches, give the skillet a minute or so to heat between batches. Listen for the sizzle as the meat cooks, indicating a nice caramelized sear.
  4. Cook medallions approximately 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cooking times for tenderloin logs vary quite a bit depending on thickness. We aim for 8 minutes per side on top and bottom, and around 3 minutes on each side edge. Check both medallions and logs with a meat thermometer, keeping the center pink.
  5. Remove meat from skillet, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Chef Laura’s Pan-Seared Venison Steak with Wild Rice and Sautéed Mushroom and Onion Sauce

article image

Image by Bruce and Elaine Ingram

Chef Laura’s Pan-Seared Venison Steak with Wild Rice and Sautéed Mushroom and Onion Sauce

Laura Pole, president of Eating for a Lifetime and a health-supportive gourmet chef, prepared this recipe for us one time, and it immediately became one of our favorites. It goes well with oven-roasted vegetables (recipe below).

Yield: 5 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups red wine, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 pounds venison steak, cut 1 inch thick
  • 1 cup organic wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 ounces fresh white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup broth (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 cup red wine, onion powder, garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to make marinade.
  2. Place steaks in a large, flat dish, and pour marinade over top. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
  3. While steaks are marinating, put rice in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and enough water to cover rice. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Lemon juice helps make rice more digestible, decreases its cooking time, and reduces its glycemic load.)
  4. When ready to prepare meal, remove venison from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Drain and rinse rice.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, and then add 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 clove garlic.
  6. Cook until onion is transparent. Add drained and rinsed rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 13⁄4 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. When ready to serve, top with dried cranberries.
  7. While rice cooks, add canola oil to a cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Remove steaks from marinade, place into skillet, and cook about 8 minutes per side. Don’t flip venison until it’s seared enough that it releases easily from the pan rather than sticking. Discard remaining marinade.
  8. When both sides have browned nicely and meat seems medium rare, remove venison from pan to a plate. Cover, and allow to rest while preparing mushroom and onion mixture.
  9. Using pan drippings, sauté remaining onion until transparent. Add remaining garlic and mushrooms, and cook 2 to 3 minutes while stirring constantly.
  10. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup red wine and 1/4 cup broth, if using.
  11. Continue stirring, adding 2 tablespoons wine and/or broth at intervals to create sauce. Just before serving, return venison to skillet on top of onion-mushroom mixture to reheat.

Dutch Oven Venison Roast

duch-oven-Venison-Roast

Yield: 4 to 5 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds venison roast
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peeled celeriac, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups broth, divided

Directions

  1. Combine red wine, soy sauce, and olive oil to make marinade. Pour over venison roast. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 12 hours.
  2. In a dish large enough to hold roast, combine rosemary, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Remove roast from marinade, and roll in seasoning mix to coat. Discard marinade. Let roast come to room temperature.
  3. Coat a cast-iron Dutch oven with vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add roast. Sear on all sides for 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  5. Remove roast from Dutch oven, and then add onion, carrot, and celeriac. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour 1 cup broth into Dutch oven, scraping any pan bits to incorporate them into the broth. Place roast on top of vegetables, and add remaining broth.
  6. Place lid on Dutch oven, and transfer to oven. Cook 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 300 F. Cook additional 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until roast is tender. Check periodically to make sure roast doesn’t dry out.

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

cast-iron-root-vegetables

For this recipe, use any combination of root vegetables you desire. Some suggestions include sweet potatoes, parsnips, golden beets, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, and butternut squash.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped root vegetables, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place cubed vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and rosemary.
  3. Mix well, and spread on a low-sided roasting sheet. Don’t crowd vegetables.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes, and then check for tenderness. Roast another 10 minutes if needed.
  5. Serve straight from the roasting pan to maintain crispness.

Bruce and Elaine Ingram are the authors of Living the Locavore Lifestyle, a book about hunting, fishing, and gathering food (with recipes). Contact them at BruceIngramOutdoors@Gmail.com.


Gritty’s Tips: Seasoning Your Cast-Iron Pans

  1. Heat the oven to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (or as low as your oven will go). This removes any moisture from the oven.
  2. Preheat the cookware in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove it; apply a thin layer of solid Crisco with a rag.
  4. Return to the oven; raise the heat to 225 degrees; leave for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove; wipe off excess shortening, but leave the pan shining wet.
  6. Return to the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. When you remove the pan and it’s cooled a bit, but is still hot, wipe it to a dull shine.

This accomplishes the initial seasoning, but remember, the more you use your pan, the better the seasoning gets. Never put cast iron in the dishwasher. To learn more, visit “Seasoning Your Cast-Iron Pan.”

Published on Oct 6, 2020

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!