The Expert-Approved Method For Cooking Flavorful Venison Steak Every Time

Venison isn't as common of a kitchen ingredient as beef or chicken, which means many of us aren't familiar with how best to cook it. Whether you're a diehard venison lover or prefer to keep the gamey flavors at a minimum, there are simple tricks you can use to make sure your next venison steak dinner will appeal to everyone at the table. To help us figure out what those tricks are we spoke to Sean Thompson, the Executive Chef at Porter House in New York City.

"Definitely season your venison," Thompson told Tasting Table. "Because no protein tastes good without seasoning. I prefer to season with sea salt and black pepper." Sometimes less is more and if you enjoy the full-bodied flavor of venison steak, following Thompson's simple salt and pepper seasoning is all you really need. They will serve as compliments that help spotlight the flavors of the meat without overpowering them. If you don't like the strong venison flavor as much, you can tame the gamey taste of venison with a simple milk soak.

It's worth familiarizing yourself with the different cuts of venison available since there are several options to choose from. Venison is quite a bit leaner than beef or pork, but there are good reasons to choose one cut over another that have nothing to do with marbling. The intensity of flavor and cooking techniques will vary slightly between them, for example.

High heat for a good char

"Being that venison is such a lean meat," Thompson continued. "You want to ensure that you're cooking at high heat (this way you can get plenty of good char without overcooking the meat)." A grill is always a good option if you have one available but cooking indoors is just as easy.

"I typically use a cast iron pan with a touch of olive oil," said Thompson. "Once you have some good caramelization on the steak, simply flip it, add some aromatics, and baste it with a little bit of butter. This will help retain the moisture." With meat that isn't as lean, the fat content is going to help keep the steak from drying out. Venison doesn't have that luxury so get proactive in keeping the meat moisturized. As for aromatics, using fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage is a classic if you enjoy a nice herbal blend. If you want to try something different, apples and cherries can be used to give it a savory fruit taste. You have several options to choose from.

If you're trying to maximize flavor, make sure you're getting your steak cut at the time of year when venison tastes best. Like other foods, venison has a season. If you're hunting the deer yourself, you don't have to think too much about this since hunting season will help orient you. If you're not hunting but still want a venison steak, look for a deer farm if your grocery store doesn't offer venison.