Perfect Venison Steak

A perfectly cooked venison steak; does it get any better than that? I have cooked venison steaks with every method imaginable and this one is hard to beat. I still love to grill them over uber-hot oak or mesquite wood, but this simple method still reigns supreme. Searing meat caramelizes the sugars and browns the proteins present in meat, resulting in a nice crust that adds color, texture, and a ton of flavor. Use back strap for this recipe, or if you want to use a beef rib-eye, have at it. Take the time to wet age the meat; this is the first step for the perfect venison steak.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs. venison back-strap
  • Olive oil (extra light has the highest smoke point and is ideal)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 baby red or yellow potatoes (about 2” in diameter)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Preparation

First of all you need to wet age the meat to do it justice. This will tenderize the meat and make it oh-so-much better. Place the meat in a gallon size zip-lock with a teaspoon of baking soda and a ¼ cup of olive. Massage the baking soda and oil until it dissolves and refrigerate for 2-7 days, the longer the better. When ready to cook, remove the meat and pat it dry with paper towels. Slice the meat into 1” thick steaks. Brush the steaks lightly with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. The salt will help form a crust so a little extra won’t hurt. Let sit at room temperature for at least a half hour.

Start cooking the smashed potatoes first. Put the potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover by at least an inch. Toss in a couple teaspoons of kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until fork tender (about ½ hour). Remove the potatoes and let them drain on paper towels or a dishtowel. Oil a baking sheet well with olive oil. Place the potatoes on the sheet. “Smash” the potatoes by lightly pressing them down with a potato masher until they are about ½ inch thick. Drizzle well with olive oil, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Roast the potatoes in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Remove from oven and cover in foil to keep warm.

Now for a little Sturm and Drang, le piece de resistance, the pan-sear!  There is one drawback that needs to be mentioned, this will smoke up your kitchen! There is no way around it. The heat required to pan sear will smoke. Disconnect the smoke alarm, fire up the exhaust fans, open a few windows, and let show begin!  You will need a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet with a metal handle that can go in the oven. You will also need a heavy duty hot pad or oven mitt. We are dealing with extremely high heat and you can easily brand yourself. BE CAREFUL! This is all going to happen quickly and I suggest a timer to keep track of cook times (I use the timer on my I-phone).

Place the skillet in the oven and heat to 500 degrees. Remove the skillet and place on the stove over high heat…I’m warning you, this is going to smoke…place the steaks in the hot, dry skillet. Do not move or mess with the steaks as they sear.  Cook for 30 seconds and flip them with tongs and cook for another 30 seconds on the other side. Transfer the skillet with steaks back into the 500 degree oven for 2 minutes. Flip the steaks and cook for another 2 minutes. This will cook them to a perfect medium-rare. If you like them a little more done increase cooking time another minute per side. Remove the steak to a plate and cover with a foil tent and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with the potatoes, some sour cream a fine red wine. I have a unique meat/wine pairing guide on my website at www.wildgamewine.com to help you find and obtain the perfect wine to accompany the Perfect Venison Steak or any meal you enjoy wine with. Check out and join our incredible wine club. Everything goes better with Wine!

Cheers!