Venison Round Steak with Morel Mushrooms Sautéed in Cognac

This was one of the best meals we've ever had, hands down. We had always hoped to go morel mushroom hunting one day and our wish finally came true last week thanks to our good friend Mark Davis, a photojournalist at the Omaha World-Herald. Mark hunts mushrooms religiously each spring and was so kind to share this experience with us. He taught us where to look and how to correctly extract them from the ground. It was an experience that we both relished. 

Although it was hot, the ticks were everywhere, and the brush was thick and unforgiving, we were able to find enough mushrooms for two hearty meals. Lucky us! In some areas, morel mushrooms can go for as much as $40 a pound. And it's no wonder. These meaty, tender mushrooms have a deeply earthy taste that is unrivaled by cultivated mushrooms found in stores. Morels are expensive because they can only be found in the wild, "popping" up in the spring when the weather warms. It also takes a bit of time, hard work and a keen eye to collect this delicious fungi. 

There's nothing new about steak and mushrooms, but instead of cooking our mushrooms in wine, like most, we decided to go with cognac because after all, morel mushrooms are most prized in French cuisine. We find that cognac helps to accentuate and complement the mushroom's earthy flavors. We hope that you all will get a chance to try morels sometime. All the tick bites and being punctured and slashed by thorns in the woods was well worth it! 

Servings: 3-4
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
- 1 large, whole venison round from a deer's hindquarter
- kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound of morel mushrooms, halved, quickly washed and drained
- pinch of dried thyme, or fresh (use more)
- 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup of cognac, or whiskey
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced

1. Allow meat to come to room temperature on the counter, about an hour. This helps the meat cook more evenly. 

Then remove all silver skin from the round. Wash under cold water, then dab dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Then heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Dab steak dry with paper towels again and sprinkle some more salt and pepper just before cooking. When the skillet and butter become hot, sear both sides of the steak until browned and crusted, about 2 minutes each side. 

3. Once the other side is seared, place the venison round on a cookie sheet and place it in a 375-degree oven to finish cooking. Bake for about 12 minutes for medium-rare. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the meat. Use a meat probe or thermometer for accuracy -- shoot for 127 degrees. 

4. Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Add shallots and cook until just turning brown, stirring often. 
5. Then add morel mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until mushrooms give up most of their moisture, stirring frequently. 
They will give up a lot of moisture, especially since you had to wash them. For best results, cook them in batches if you have the time for better browning. 
Allow the liquids in the skillet to evaporate almost completely.
6. Then carefully pour in 1/4 cup of cognac into the pan with the morels and allow it to reduce until it's almost gone, which should only take a few seconds. 
Remove mushrooms from heat then stir in the last 1 tablespoon of butter, thyme and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add any juices that collect from the meat after resting to the mushrooms for more flavor. 
7. Once the venison round's internal temperature reaches about 127 degrees, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes, tented with foil. 

When the internal temperature reaches between 130-135 degrees, it is ready to slice against the grain. Serve with the sautéed morels on top or on the side. 


  1. Made this for dinner tonight... Awesome recipe!!!

    1. Thanks! Glad the recipe turned out well for you. It's one of our favorites.


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