BBQ and Horseradish Venison Steak Sandwich

This venison steak sandwich recipe was originally developed for the Lincoln Journal Star. Journalist Cory Matteson asked me to come up with a recipe to pair with his story on Arby's, which unveiled its limited-time-only venison sandwich in 2017.

Remember that? That was pretty big in Nebraska. Lines went out the door and the sandwiches sold out quickly. I heard good things about it, but did not brave the January weather to stand in line. Here's the story, if you're interested:

Arby's sandwich worked, I think, because the meat was marinated-- or so I heard, and it was probably loin from young, domesticated deer. Otherwise, the experience of trying to bite into a whole piece of wild game steak wedged between two slices of bread would not be pleasant. I've tried. For the best results, save this recipe for the tenderloins or backstraps from a very young deer.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 1-2 days
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- 4 butterflied venison loin or tenderloin steaks, silver skin removed*
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of red wine
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of juniper berries, crushed
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 4 pretzel buns
- Burger fixings: arugula, horseradish sauce, BBQ sauce, sliced tomatoes, French's crispy onions or crispy jalapenos 

*I recommend using the tenderloin (inside straps) or loin (backstraps) from a young deer. If using tenderloin, marinate for only 8 hours. 

1. Whisk together olive oil, red wine, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, shallot and juniper berries. Place steaks in a zip-top bag and pour in the marinade. Rub rosemary and thyme between your palms to release oils and add to the bag. Seal and massage to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for 2 days to tenderize the meat. 

2. One hour prior to cooking, take steaks out of the refrigerator and allow to warm up on the counter. When ready to cook, take steaks out of the marinade and dab dry with paper towels. Then season steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium rare or longer, but do not cook past medium. 

3. Toast buns if desired. Spread horseradish sauce and BBQ sauce on the buns. Assemble burgers with cooked venison steak, arugula, tomatoes and French's crispy onion or jalapenos.