Balsamic Parmesan Marinated Venison Steaks
I know. A lot of people are touting the pleasures of sous vide for wild game recipes. Yes, I bought a sous vide stick too, but it still sits in the original wrapping. And taped shut. There are simply too many other ways to cook venison, but I’ll get it out eventually. For right now I am going to use my meat thermometer and the classic steak cooking method of pan roasting. (Which might just be the most perfect way to cook venison steaks.) And since it’s still winter I’m going to pair them with Oven-Roasted Veggies.
So what is pan-roasting? It is a two-step cooking method, like sous vide, but backward. With pan roasting you sear the deer, antelope or elk steak first; sous vide sears second. Most often, after the steak is pan roasted, the pan–steaks and all–goes in a very hot, say 500F (preheated) oven. Then the steaks get cooked another 3-5 minutes turning once, and voila. Dinner.
But life is sometimes not that controllable, plus I like to make a sauce out of this marinade. So, instead of 500F, I’ll put the oven at 400, and keep a very close eye—and meat thermometer—on the steaks as the marinade cooks down. (It needs to reduce a bit to sweeten up, but also to simmer at least 4 minutes to be safe to eat.)
If you’re a slow, deliberate cook, or have lots of distractions in the kitchen, preheat the oven to only 350° or even 300°F so you don’t end up over-cooking your pan-roasted steaks. That gives you more wiggle room. And since venison has very little fat, wiggle room in a venison recipe is a very good thing. Besides, you can always turn the heat up if you have to.
Two more things: First, the balsamic vinegar marinade will darken the steaks, so it’s hard to tell if they’re well done or medium rare—or John’s favorite raw-rare. So keep the meat thermometer handy.
Second, we have a new pepper mill—and it’s the first one we’ve loved. It’s the Acacia model MP99: adhoc-design.de (It’s German, thus the ‘de’ for Deutschland, which is German for Germany.) It’s a very simple design with infinitely variable grind, and was less $35. I bought ours at our local kitchen store, which is now out of business, unfortunately. And while the MP99 is available online, please try to buy it locally, so your local kitchen store will stay in business. (The only thing left in our ‘shopping town’ for kitchen gadgets and appliances is now the big box stores. And if you want to know what’s wrong with that, read the 2/22/22 blog post about my Instapot for which I cannot replace the steam valve that rolled off who knows where.)
Here’s the meat recipe: roasted veggies follow. (Or you can just serve your pan roasted venison steaks with baked potatoes and microwaved veggies.) PS: this recipe is from Slice of the Wild: 100 venison recipes. And is one reason that book sits on the counter by the stove.
Balsamic Parmesan Venison Steaks
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 pound venison steaks, 1-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons butter
Combine the vinegar, oil, thyme sprigs, oregano sprigs (stems and leaves intact), Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a re-sealable plastic bag. Trim and dry the steaks, then add to the marinade. Let marinate 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator. When you are ready to cook, save the marinade for a sauce. And don’t dry the steaks; the oil will keep them from sticking.
- Place cast iron skillet #1 in the center of your oven; preheat to 475˚F. On the stovetop, bring one tablespoon of oil to a sizzle over medium-high heat in cast iron skillet #2 on the stove top and sear the steaks on both sides, about 3 minutes total. Transfer the steaks to skillet #1 to finish cooking in the oven: in ten minutes, a 1-inch steak should be medium rare.
- For a sauce: Lift skillet #2 off the stovetop burner a few seconds when you’re done searing, lower the heat to medium-low, and pour the marinade into the pan. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Add the butter to the pan, and when it melts, spoon the sauce over the steaks. Serve immediately.
Start the roasted veggies first, then when there’s about 15 minutes left to cook them, start the steaks. Then you can finish off both courses in the same oven.
- 1 ½ pounds potato, in bite-sized chunks
- ½ pound baby carrots
- 1 yellow onion, halved, then quartered
- 3 tablespoons oil
- Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine the veggies and oil, season with salt and pepper and stir them all together to coat the veggies.
Spread them out on a roasting pan, and bake at 350 for one hour, turning them once or twice during the cooking.