venison steaks with red sauce
Sun, 23 November, 2014
⯆ JUMP TO RECIPE
Pan fried venison steaks with red wine and redcurrant sauce: rich, gutsy and quick to prepare. Arguably better flavour than beef, undoubtedly more ethical and sustainable.
A little rant to start with
Isn’t it bad when people who happily put away pigs, chickens and cows will balk at eating deer or rabbit (Bambi and fluffy bunny). They don’t however necessarily recoil at eating battery chickens or pigs farmed in inhumane conditions.
Game is happier meat
Surely it’s more ethical to eat an animal that had a happy life in the wild? If eat meat we must, game is the most environmentally fair. Humans are omnivores, gatherers but hunters too.
A friend of mine used to say she’d only eat the animal she’d killed herself – that’s taking it a bit far in my view, I’d not rely on myself in delivering quick and painless butchery – but there’s a point.
And nose to tail, while we're at it
The fluffy Bambi attitude is as bad as happily noshing bacon but shuddering at kidneys or liver. Killed the beast – now eat it all up, don’t waste it. It’s respect – North American Indians knew a thing or two about it, praying to the spirit of the animal for giving up its life to feed the people.
Venison steaks - tender or tough?
But venison steaks are a bit of a lottery. Depending on various factors like which end of the haunch your butcher cut them; whether they had aged properly; how lean the meat is - they might be tender or tough as old boots.
There’s no way of knowing unless you interrogate the gamekeeper, the hunter and the butcher and even that is not a sure proof method. There is venison loin of course, the eye of the haunch part of cut but it’s staggeringly expensive
Venison steaks can be tender
My way of dealing with the tough old boots odds is twofold: I keep the steaks in the fridge for a few days before eating them and I season them with salt a day before the feast.
Aging meat tenderises it
Let’s be honest: aging is nothing other than rotting the meat a little, and rotting tenderises it which we know well from various police and forensic procedurals – apologies to the squeamish.
And the salting method I owe to Samin Nosrat and it has proved times and again to be effective: salt your meat as early as a night before cooking it and it will repay you in flavour and tenderness.
Marinate or not?
You can try various marinades but my belief is that they will impart flavour but tenderize, not so much. It’s far better to make a pan sauce instead, to dunk the cooked meat in for the gutsy flavour: red wine and a little sweetness will do the deer justice.
venison steaks with red sauceServings: 2Time: 15 minutes plus aging (optional)
- 2-4 (depending on the size) venison steaks cut thickly across the grain from the haunch
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp. oil for frying
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 200 ml red wine
- 2 tbsp. redcurrant jelly
- 1 tsp. dried cranberries (optional)
- 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
1. If possible, keep the steaks in the fridge unwrapped on a plate for a few days (up to a week) to age and tenderise the meat. It will darken deeply as a result of oxidisation. If you’re doing that, salt the meat generously at the end of the aging process, about 24 hours before cooking. Bring the meat to room temperature before you fry it.
2. Heat up a frying pan to almost smoking, drizzle in a little oil. Season the steaks with black pepper and cook them for 2 minutes on each side. This makes for medium rare, but the cookedness can be further adjusted when you return them to the pan with the sauce, so shorter initial frying is better.
3. Lift the steaks out and place them on a warm plate, loosely covered with foil. Keep warm.
4. Keeping the pan on medium heat add in the garlic, pour in the balsamic vinegar and the wine and turn the heat up. It should bubble ferociously. Add the redcurrant jelly, cranberries if using and stir in. Keep it simmering energetically for about 5-7 minutes; when the sauce has reduced by half or at least significantly thickened, whisk in the butter.
5. Turn the heat down, return the steaks to the pan and turn them in the sauce. Serve immediately, but if you want them more done, let them sit in the sauce on small heat a minute or two, turning over once.