Cuisine Fiend

venison steaks with red sauce

Sun, 23 November, 2014


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.

venison haunch steaks pan fried served with red wine sauce

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.

no better pairing than venison steaks and red wine sauce

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

pan seared venison steaks with pan sauce

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.

venison steaks with red wine sauce

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 sauce

Servings: 2Time: 15 minutes plus aging (optional)
Rating: (4 reviews)


  • 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.

how to tenderise venison

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.

how to cook venison steaks

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.

how to make red wine sauce for venison

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.

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Your comments

Grace Rennie
@Grateful Grace
Oh my goodness - tried this tonight and it was to die for! Followed recipe from salting venison 24 hours before cooking and I was so proud of myself - my husband was very impressed too! Thanks for step by step instructions! Venison was so tasty, tender and succulent !
15 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Simon - that's a good way to welcome Better New Year.
16 days ago
Simon Kirkbright
I needed a good sauce for a piece of roast loin we are having for New years eve. (Good riddance 2020!) Hello to a lovely sauce. Thank you.
16 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Marian - I agree the garlic might be sauteed first, it's up to personal taste. Thank you for your comment!
27 days ago
Marian Best
really liked the sauce with the venison but would sautee the garlic a bit before adding the balamic etc. Cooked my 2 vension steaks for different times . Thinner one for overall 6 mins (1 - 1- 2 -2 ) thicker one for 8 ( adding 1 then 1). Medium outcome after resting. Overall very easy recipe using readily available ingredients. Recommended.
27 days ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Liz - hope you enjoy them.
3 months ago
Liz de Rooy
Very interesting and informative. Going to try cooking my steaks in this way.thanks
3 months ago
This recipe is an absolute winner. I did it with very small bits of venison and cooked them for about 45 secs each side in a very hot pan. The sauce has great flavour!
5 months ago

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