Growing up in a deer hunting family, I most certainly ate my fair share of venison. My father always used to have deer sausage ready for the grill at our camps. On special occasions, or when he just felt like a nice meal, hed break out a tenderloin or backstrap and cut them into steaks, often frying the medallions.
If all the meat on a deer tasted like the tenderloin and backstrap—the most tender cuts—then it wouldn’t be difficult to figure out what to do with the whole animal. The default butchering technique for venison is to take those “money” cuts out and then grind the rest, blending it with some fatty pork or beef to make burgers, sausage, or spaghetti sauce.
While I’m a fan of a good smoked venison sausage in a nice snappy casing, I’m also a huge advocate for finding other ways to cook the less appealing cuts. Venison shoulder pot roast is usually a winner at my house. And for the hind leg, I cut it into round steaks for grillades.
To me, good grillades should always come from the less expensive cuts. Typically made with veal or beef, the traditional method of cooking grillades turns even the toughest meats tender. Cubes of meat are seasoned and pounded flat, beginning the breakdown process by using blunt force on the muscle tissue. They are then browned in a pan to develop flavor before braising them for an extended period of time to continue breaking down the proteins with gradual heat.
Grillades done right should be just about fork tender and bursting with flavor. They can be served with rice or over a nice batch of creamy grits. Venison has certainly experienced a surge in popularity in recent years because it is a lean, nutritious meat. No matter how you fix it, it’s nice to have a few more options with venison (other than the meat grinder).
- 2 pounds boneless venison round steak
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
- 3 stalks celery, finely diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup parsley, chopped and divided
- Hot cooked grits or rice
- Garnish: finely chopped green onion
- Trim and discard any fat or sinew tissue on venison. Cut steak into 2-inch squares. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon salt and peppers.
- On a cutting board, place several pieces of venison, and sprinkle with salt mixture and flour. Using a meat mallet, pound each piece of meat until slightly flattened. Turn pieces over, and season with salt mixture and flour; pound meat again. Repeat until all meat has been seasoned and flattened.
- In a large heavy stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. In batches, brown venison on both sides. Remove from pot. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Return meat to pot. Stir in tomatoes, beef broth, bay leaves, ¼ cup parsley, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 1 hour.
- Remove bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add remaining ¼ cup parsley, and cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot over grits or rice. Garnish with green onion, if desired.