Venison Steaks with Cherry Shallot Sauce

We like to be creative, but nothing beats a nice, simple steak. This week, we go back to the basics to bring you juicy, tender venison steaks drizzled with a sweet cherry shallot sauce. Making a good steak is easier than most people think. If you follow a few basic rules, you'll make awesome venison steaks every time. 


1. Let steaks come to room temperature before cooking, AT ALL TIMES. This is the secret to making perfect steaks-- any kind of steak. This allows for better control over internal temperature, giving you a nice sear on the outside, but warm and medium rare on the inside. If your steak is cold, chances are that you will burn the outside before the inside reaches the correct temperature. Also, the rapid switch from being extremely cold to extremely hot makes your meat tense up. Allowing the steaks to rest at room temperature relaxes the meat, giving you melt-in-your mouth tenderness. 

2. Especially when it comes to venison, REMOVE all silver skin and fat from the steaks. Leaving it on is a no-no and will absolutely ruin your beautiful piece of meat. Not only does it taste horrible, but it will also make your meat tough. Silver skin and fat is what gives venison its "gamey" taste, which accounts for most bad venison experiences. It is widely accepted that the tenderloin is the most tender part of the deer, but roast makes great steaks as well. Most of the time, we can't even tell the difference. Great steaks can come from leg meat as well. The important thing is to cut the roasts up in a way so no silver skin runs through the pieces.

3. Season steaks before cooking. Salting steaks before you cook it gives it a more subtle saltiness, allowing the salt to marry with the flavors of the meat. The best salt to use is kosher salt.

4. For a good sear and crust, make sure you DON'T use a non-stick pan (if you can help it) and make sure your pan is hot before placing steaks. We suggest cooking at medium to medium-hight heat, depending on how thick your steak is. With venison, we don't cut our steaks too thick so pan searing is no problem. Thicker steaks should probably be cooked on the barbeque grill. One easy way to know if your pan is hot is by sprinkling some water into the pan. If it sizzles and evaporates immediately, it's hot enough.

5. Watch your meat and DO NOT overcook. I'm sure most of you know that venison tastes disgusting if it's overcooked. Venison is a different meat and should not be treated like beef. It should not be cooked past medium. But this shouldn't intimidate you because venison is more forgiving than people think. Do the finger test. Practice makes perfect and the more you do it, the easier it will become. And it's okay to eat red meat. It won't make you sick.

6. Resist the temptation of moving or flipping your steak before it's ready. The more you play with the steak, the more moisture will evaporate from the steak. Notice how steam comes up every time you move the steak, especially on the grill. This is precious moisture you're losing.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 2 1/2 lbs. venison steaks
- 4 tbs. olive oil, divided
- Montreal Steak seasoning
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 cup cherry preserves

1. About 1 hour before you want to cook, take your steaks out of the fridge and remove all fat/silver skin. 1 hour allows the steaks enough time to come to room temperature.
Rinse any excess blood (it's technically protein) under cold water and dab dry with a paper towel. 

Drizzle 2 tbs. of olive oil over steaks and season all sides liberally with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Let the steaks rest to room temperature. 

 2. To make the sauce, cook shallots in a saucepan with 2 tbs. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until golden. 
De-glaze the pan with pomegranate juice, scraping the bottom of the pan.
Stir in cherry preserves. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until thickened. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. 

The sauce may take awhile to reduce, so make it beforehand. If you find it too sweet, add a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. 
3. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Cook steaks about 1-2 minute each side, or until medium-rare. Make sure your pan is hot before placing down the steaks and don't overcrowd the pan.
Drizzle cherry shallot sauce over steaks and serve with your favorite sides!

We made "Pepin Potatoes" and bacon spinach.

Again, thanks for looking at our recipes. Remember to share with all your family and friends. :-)

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  1. I recently read a cooking thing in the NYT on how to cook a tenderloin. I used the same technique on elk, basically sear it on all sides in a cast iron frying pan then put the entire pan in a 400 degree oven and cook to an internal temperature of 120. It worked, but was very rare. What do you think about rare game?

    PS we do that silver skin thing religiously, I think that's why everyone tells us our deer doesn't taste gamey. I also leave meat at room temp until it's the same temp as the air.


  2. Hi Somsai!

    We brought whole tenderloins home from Nebraska this time, but have not had the chance to cook it yet. When we do, we would use the same technique that you did. If you don't like your meat too rare, then keep it in the oven for a little longer. It's a matter of personal preference, but we personally like to eat venison pretty rare. It is usually eaten at medium-rare, where you will get the most flavor and juiciness. If you overcook, the venison will dry out. (You know how little fat there is in deer meat.) As long as you take care of the meat, it's perfectly safe to eat rare meat. A lot of people wrap bacon around venison to keep it moist.

    Another tip is to let your meat rest a bit (5-10 minutes) by putting foil over it to keep it warm. The venison will continue to cook while it sits because it's still hot. And it will give the muscles a chance reabsorb its juices. If you cut into it right away out of the oven, you will lose a lot of the meat juices.

    And you're very right about the silver skin. It does make venison gamey. No matter what kind of meat you work with, the silver skin should be taken off regardless. It will curl your meat and make it tough. We hope this helps!

    Rick and Jen


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