When prepared correctly, a nice, juicy venison steak can be like no other. I grew up with my Dad being a hunter; and so therefore have eaten my fair share of deer, moose, and elk. I, then went on to marry Michael; whom also enjoys hunting and filling our freezer full come November/December. It became essential that I learn how to cook venison without bringing out the “gamey” taste everyone talks about and most people dislike. To ensure a more “sweet” taste and avoid the “gamey” taste, it’s all about precise cooking and good preparation. Throwing this meat into sausage or using the ground meat for chili, lasagna, or spaghetti sauce is pretty easy but getting a steak right takes precision. So much so, that I had almost given up and told my husband…. no more steaks when taking the animal to the butcher; just ground and roasts!
Then, I came across this “Jack Daniel’s” recipe I found from Pit-Boss Grills. It intrigued me and I’ve adapted it slightly. With a few changes and additions, the whole family was surprised at how tasty and juicy these steaks came out.
Preparing the Venison
To understand how to prepare a venison steak, it helps to first understand the difference between beef and venison. Beef can easily be identified by its tasty fat; which you can see marbled through the meat. Venison fat, on the other hand, is found only on the outside of the cut and tastes like a boiled leather glove when cooked. With a venison steak, you want to trim ALL OF IT off! There is no point in leaving some on the meat, it will not add to the taste; in fact it will ruin it.
Venison, in general, is more lean and has an abundance of capillaries (vs beef)…. meaning more blood. This will give the meat a more rich, sweeter taste. However, it also has less moisture. Therefore, when cooking venison it can dry out very quickly causing that awful gamey taste. It is always important to not overcook a steak, but when it’s venison it’s essential. The longer you cook a venison steak, the more “gamey” it will taste.
A Few Tips…..
- Trimming: If it’s white, trim it. Be picky; get rid of it.
- Cook it fast: Cook on a high heat, so that it cooks quickly; to a medium-rare temp.
- Use an instant read thermometer: it happens very fast; be ready to remove the steaks from the heat as soon as they are ready (130 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not walk away from the grill!
- Don’t forget to give them time to rest. Resting in a foil tent for 8-10 mins will keep them tender and allow the temperature to rise another 5-10 degrees.
- Oil the grill prior to heating to avoid any sticking (especially with this recipe)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (aside from the steaks). Mix well. Pour marinade into a large ziploc bag.
- Add the steaks to the marinade, and seal the Ziploc bag well. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
- Oil the grill grates. Start up the grill and heat to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. I use our Broil King gas grill. I find when searing steak, the pellet grill just doesn’t get quite hot enough. If you’re going to do this in a kettle, I recommend getting a vortex to get a good searing heat out of the coals.
- Place the steaks on the grill and monitor closely. How soon you flip will depend on how thick the steaks are. These particular elk steaks were on the thinner side and I was flipping them within 3 minutes. Use a instant read thermometer to determine doneness. You want to remove the steaks when the internal temp. is 130 degrees Fahrenheit. We have a guide that details how to grill the perfect steak for some extra tips.
- Place the steaks on a plate or platter and tent with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!