Venison Steak Tartare

Steak tartare is dish made of raw minced meat mixed with fresh herbs, spices and a raw egg yolk on top. It's usually served on crostini as an appetizer-- crackers aren't the same, I tried it-- and is tasty with a glass of red wine. When you cut into the yolk, it creates a velvety sauce that adds a much-needed richness to the lean meat. Additions such as shallots, mustard, parsley, lemon, capers and freshly cracked pepper impart a fresh, pungent bite.

Some of you are probably looking at this and thinking: "Ew." It's not for everyone. Rick wouldn't touch it-- he doesn't find eating raw meat and eggs particularly appetizing, but I was perfectly happy to eat it all by myself-- a little raw meat every once in awhile adds excitement to my life. And it was also a fun opportunity for me to photograph this pretty dish with the woodland violets I've collected in the woods. We've been doing lots of morel mushroom hunting and woodland violets are a common sight this time of year. They don't really have a taste, but they do pretty up dishes and salads quite nicely. And try to use farm fresh eggs-- they look and taste much better than mass produced grocery store eggs. I used eggs from my friends Bre and Dave who keep their own chickens.

Of course there are health risks if your meat and eggs are not top quality. However, if you know that your meat was properly handled and your eggs came from a good source, you should be fine. Never use venison from a deer that was shot in the gut, though. I used Hank Shaw's recipe as a base for mine, and he offers a great guide to making venison tartare on his website:

I also took an extra precaution. I salted the venison prior to placing it in the freezer to firm up, and then rinsed off the salt before mincing the meat. The salt kills bacteria present on the meat's surface. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 40 minutes
- 1/2 pound venison loin
- Kosher salt
- Half a shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon of juniper berries, toasted and ground
- Himalayan sea salt, to taste
- Coarse ground pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- Grated zest of half a lemon
- Woodland violet flowers for garnish, optional
- 2 egg yolks
- Capers
- French bread, buttered and toasted


1. Trim off any silver skin and fat on venison. Cover liberally with the kosher salt and set in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, soak minced shallot in red wine vinegar. When venison is firm, rinse salt off the the venison and pat dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife, finely dice the meat. Transfer meat to a bowl and keep cold.

2. Drain shallots and combine with minced meat, ground juniper berries, Himalayan sea salt to taste, coarse ground pepper, chopped parsley, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Taste for seasoning. 

3. Divide meat into two serving bowls and make a depression in each. Lay an egg yolk into each bowl and garnish with lemon zest and woodland violets. Serve with capers and thinly sliced buttered, toasted French bread.



  1. Looks great, but I'm afraid I'm with Rick on this one.

  2. Interesting looking dish, but it appears 20 minutes is nowhere near enough time to actually kill bacteria. Tests indicate three days is the minimum time required -- up to three weeks.

    Personally, I'd only do this with backstraps, as they're the only part of the animal I'm totally confident of removing without bacterial contamination (possibly parts of the neck or front shoulders too, although even that can get dicey).

    1. There's always inherent risk in eating anything raw-- those who eat tartare and raw eggs do so at their own risk. It's a small part of the appeal.

      We did use backstrap in this recipe -- loins are backstraps. But we've also used meat from the quarters. We're pretty clean and careful when butchering our deer, but it depends on how confident a person is with their workflow.

      I read the article, but I'm not sure that it pertains to this recipe. The article talks about brining, which is a water-down solution of salt. Yes, I would be very careful about using the correct brine ratio and time for canned foods that might sit on your shelf at room temperatures for months. But this isn't the same technique here. The salt we used to cover the meat -- which is 100 pure salt-- is just to help kill surface bacteria, which will be consumed soon after. An argument can be made that 20 minutes probably isn't enough time. You can go an hour or several if you want to, but definitely not three weeks. By that time, the texture and color of the meat would've changed so much that you're better off making charcuterie. The longer the salt sits, the more moisture it will draw from the meat.


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