If you’re sick of the same ol’ dry, tough venison recipes – then these unique and delicious alternatives are a must for your next harvest.
Within the majority of venison cooking, the person prepping the meat is the same person who harvested it from the wild. True game meat is still a rarity in grocery stores and the like. Therefore, brushing up on a few creative ways to prep all manner of cuts from your hunt can go an exceptionally long way. And – if like most hunters – you love to eat well – then you’ve come to the right place.
In kind, the following recipes were written (and curated here) with the “harvester being the cook” in mind. If you have access to venison, however, each is fully doable without taking to the wilds yourself. Save for making your own venison stock, that is.
If you or family/friends will be on the hunt soon, these four recipes will have you making use of as much of your harvest as possible. Producing as much as you can from your kill is, after all, paramount for a fine hunter.
Taking venison to the next level with these unique recipes is meat scientist Jess Pryles. Pryles is a “full fledged Hardcore Carnivore,” which also happens to be the title of her phenomenal meat-based cookbook extraordinaire. It’s a title she’s more than earned, as well. With over a decade of slaughterhouses, butcher shops, and hunt-to-harvesting experience under her belt, Pryles has become one of the world’s leading experts in prepping & cooking damn fine meats.
Below, we’ve pulled four of her absolute best – and most unique – venison recipes for your culinary efforts. The first of the lot will elevate all others, but if you’re not looking to make broth from bones it may be best to skip past.
1. Step Up Your Venison Recipes: How to Make Your Own Venison Stock
Preparing any meat with stock (or broth) will fully elevate end results. In the case of venison stock, you’ll most likely have to make it yourself. Thankfully, this is far easier than it seems – if you have access to a full harvest. In short: you’re going to need deer bones!
When harvesting said bones, be sure that each is small enough to fit into the pot you’ll be using to create the stock. From there, Pryles says it’s best to “start with cold water and very slowly bring the pot to a simmer. Over boiling will result in a cloudier stock with more impurities.”
So why go through all the trouble of making your own stock for your venison recipes? It all boils down to flavor. Pun intended.
“If you like flavor in your food, you need to make your own stock,” Pryles states above her recipe. “It’s used instead of water as the liquid in chilis, stews and makes an incredible base for soups too. Essentially, it’s the distilled essence of the bones and marrow, made even more flavorful by an intense browning of said bones prior to boiling.”
Sold yet? If so, Pryles adds that using the leg bones and slabs of ribs is the way to go. She uses these for her own venison stock. Now onto the ingredients!
- 5-8 lb venison bones with some meat left on
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large brown onion, skin on
- 2 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 bunch parsely
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
Making your stock will utilize both an oven at 400f to brown your bones, as well as a large stock pot to simmer afterwards for 6-8 hours. If you’re ready to fully commit to this recipe and need the step-by-step instructions, Jess Pryles has them all set for you.
2. Venison Pot Pie with Red Wine & Mushrooms
Right off the bat, this recipe will make use of your venison stock, should you decide to make some. This is also, from personal experience, one of the absolute best venison recipes you’ll ever come across.
If you’ll be harvesting the meat yourself, Pryles lays down some more pro-tips there, as well. She says turning any “reasonably chunky” bits into cubes/diced meat rather than ground meat or steaks is the way to go. As cubes, venison makes for pure excellence in stews, braises – and you guessed it – pot pies. Cooking venison long enough within one of these forms makes it every bit as tender and succulent as beef or lamb.
For Pryle’s part, “what makes this pie particularly delicious is the rich gravy that cradles the venison. The layers of flavor are built from reduced red wine and the addition of a secret umami ingredient – porcini powder.” That last ingredient is optional, she adds, but also pinpoints the “added depth” it brings. Pot pies, however, can be complicated enough, so skipping the rarer-hard-to-find-don’t-needs may be best for us non-pros.
From there, it’s time to get personal with your choice in pastry lid. Everything from a pie crust to puff pastry works excellently. A traditional pie crust will be much more dense and crumbly. Puff, on the other hand, will be light & buttery. Really it all comes to your own preference in pastries. For my part on a savory dish like this – the butter’ier the better.
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lb venison chunks
- 2 tablespoon butter, divided
- 8 oz mushrooms, white or baby bella
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons porcini powder (optional)
- 2 cups dry red wine
- Add 2 cups beef stock – or your venison stock you definitely are making!
- 2 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-6 springs of thyme
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon water
- Top w/ 1 sheet puff pastry or pie crust
- 1 egg, beaten
- salt & pepper
For this most-delicious of venison recipes, you’ll want to consult the full instructions from Jess Pryles.
3. Chicken Fried Venison with Waffles
This particular recipe serves 2, and is for all the chicken-fried-anything fans in the audience. Which is everyone, right?
Chances are you’ve had country fried steak. This should be a more flavorful and satisfying venture, to say the least. Fun facts first, though. “Chicken frying” something doesn’t mean chicken is a part of the process. “Chicken fried” refers to the type of batter being used, and then the technique to fry. As such, this is how everything from beef to fish to venison recipes can be “chicken-fried”.
In short, “you can expect that it will be coated in a flour mixture similar to that of regular Southern fried chicken,” Pryles notes.
In this instance, the chicken frying will take place on your choice of venison steaks. Every hunter and chef has a different definition of “steak” when it comes to venison. For Pryles, however, “steak” denotes any slabs that “are cut from the muscles in the front leg and ham that are large enough to avoid the grinder, but not as tender as a backstrap, and usually are only good for jerky or shallow pan frying” (oh, is that all?).
In the end – there are two excellent ways to look at this recipe:
- Everyone loves fried food. And if they don’t, don’t trust that person.
- If your venison always turns out tough or tired, then frying literally makes everything better. Which leads back to #1.
As a result, if you take one of these excellent venison recipes away from this list – let it be this one. “Salty, crispy, spicy, meaty and of course sweet,” says Pryles of her invention. Sold? Sold.
- 6 small venison steaks
- 3 waffles (use bought or make your own)
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of milk or cream
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup honey
You know the drill! If you’re wanting to tackle this venison dish, head over to the full instructions here.
4. Rich Venison Bolognese Sauce for Pasta Recipes
Now – all of the above being said, if you’re harvesting venison – you’re going to end up with meat for the grinder. And a lot of it. Like, a lot a lot. For this reason alone, this phenomenal pasta sauce ties up our venison recipes perfectly.
We tend to want to make a burger or sausage immediately with ground meat. Venison, however, doesn’t lend itself as well to either as livestock. Otherwise, well, grocery stores would be full of deer links & patties. Livestock is fattened for the kill, and as such makes for the best binding & flavor when ground. Venison, as with most wild game, will always be leaner and healthier to eat, though. So choosing it where it works well – like this pasta recipe – can be extremely beneficial.
Speaking to all of this, Jess Pryles points out that a “slow braise in a rich tomato sauce keeps [venison] moist – as long as you keep it saucy enough when reducing it.”
Sounds excellent, yes? Introducing leaner meats to a braise – and keeping it present – is a perfect way to keep from a disappointing, tough outcome. To that end, Pryles says “the only “tough” part about this whole recipe, is choosing which type of pasta you’re going to serve it with!”
Classic angelhair or spaghetti always works. For a hearty sauce like this, however, a thicker pasta with some shape to hold the sauce will do best.
- Start w/ 2 lb ground venison
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 28oz/800g can of tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme (stems removed)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 c beef or chicken broth
- 1 c red wine
For full instructions on this delicious pasta, Pryles has every detail you need to tackle this one.
Feeling confident for your next Venison Recipes?
Surely one of these masterful venison recipes will do the trick for even the most seasoned of hunters & chefs.
If you’re looking for something even richer, however, then this Duck Commander’s ‘Best’ Venison Backstrap Recipe has your name all over it, as well.
[H/T Jess Pryles]