This past deer season was extremely successful for me for a variety of reasons. One, I managed to shoot a big doe with my recurve and have my baby daughter along. Two, I hadn’t got a deer the previous year, thus our freezer was feeling pretty empty when it came to red meat.
Like most people, I get tired of having the same few recipes over and over. I love trying new recipes, especially for wild game, and I enjoy making them my own. This past year I had saved a variety of recipes and ideas and have been making use of the full freezer of venison.
Although backstraps can be used, these round rump venison steaks are just as good for this recipe!
I chose to butcher my own deer, as I prefer knowing it was butchered in a clean environment and packaged properly. This also ensures very little meat is wasted. Neck meat and shanks are used for roast or ground meat, heart is stuffed and roasted, even ribs are thrown in the Crock-Pot and cooked to fall-off-the-bone deliciousness. Finding new ways to use the less desirable cuts is a fun way to challenge your cooking skills as well.
While most people prefer the backstrap when it comes to cooking a venison steak, I like to save them for a special occasion. There is only a limited amount, after all. I tend to cut half a dozen steaks off of the hindquarters and use them in recipes such as this one. They are still tender and delicious, and you’d never know it wasn’t the “prime” cut of backstrap.
A very rustic dish, the recipe I’m sharing here is simple to make, yet it packs a lot of flavor. Although I used whitetail steaks, you could easily substitute elk, mule deer, or any other red meat.
French Onion Venison Steaks
You will need:
- 1/2 to 1 lb. venison steak
- 2-4 onions
- 1 cup of beef, game, or bone broth
- Cooking oil
- Salt and pepper
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cast iron skillet
Cut venison steaks to 1.5” thick and season well with salt and pepper. (This would be a great recipe for a backstrap, which could be easily cut into symmetrical medallions. However, I was out of backstrap, so just used a steak cut from the hindquarter (round). The meat came out extremely tender!)
Heat cast iron skillet over medium high and add a few tablespoons of oil. Add your steaks and let them cook a few minutes on each side. Don’t worry about cooking them through, just get a nice sear on both sides. Then, remove them from the skillet and set them on a plate.
While the steaks are cooking, I usually use the time to slice my onions. You may have noticed that I didn’t specify which kind of onions to use, because they all work great with this recipe. I prefer red onions for the big flavor and “bite.” They’re also a larger onion, so I don’t need as many. If you prefer a more mellow flavor, I suggest a white or yellow onion. All are delicious! I use roughly one onion per person I plan to serve as a general rule of thumb.
Slice the onions thin. Once the steaks are removed from the skillet, dump the onions into that same skillet over medium heat. Add your broth, 4 tablespoons of butter, and season well with salt and pepper. At this time, you should preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Let the onions cook down, stirring occasionally. It will take about 15-20 minutes
for the liquid to disappear and the onions to turn a beautiful caramelized color.
Place your cooked steaks back into the skillet and nestle them into the bed of cooked onions. Top the steaks with shredded mozzarella, being as heavy handed with the cheese as you like. There is no wrong answer there. Place the skillet into your preheated oven and let it cook for 20 minutes for medium rare, 23-24 for well done. Add some parmesan cheese and chopped parsley if desired. Serve with a good French bread and don’t count on having a lot of leftovers!
Beka Garris lives in southern Ohio with her husband, Alex, and daughter, Isabella. The inspiring story of how Beka killed a deer with her bow while carrying baby Isabella on her back, Lucked Out, was published in our Jun/Jul 2020 issue.