How to good cook venison steaks?

The text below comes from a book by Nicola Fletcher's : "Ultimate Venison Cookery".

What are the best cuts for grilling and frying?

Starting with the most tender- from the saddle: fillet (filet mignon), loin (sirloin). From the haunch: rump, topside.

Do you have to marinate venison steaks?

Not at all. Good venison has a distinct flavour of its own and marinades sometimes interfere with other flavours.

How do you prevent venison steaks from being dry?

Never cook them beyond medium rare because pink meat cannot be dry. The best way to achieve this is to undercook them, than let them rest to finish their cooking so they remain rare or pink- as long as there are still some red juices left in the meat, it is physically impossible for it to be dry. (…) Fortunately there is a very simple solution: this is to undercook the steak, then remove it from the intense heat and keep it warm for a few minutes to rest the meat while any sauce or vegetables are being finished. The advantage of this method is that you can really brown the outside of the meat to give the delicoius caramellised flavour but yet not overcook the inside. During the short resting period, the meat (and chef) relaxes, the heat on the outside of the steak continues towards the middle, and the juices in the underdone centre are drawn back towards the more cooked outside. And when you cut it, istead of having a grey, over-cooked outside ring and nearly raw centre, the steak will be evenly pink and fabulously moist throughout- altogether a more mouthwatering prospect.

How long does it take to cook steaks?

It varies with the thickness and temperature of your steak, how hot your pan or grill is and how rare or pink you like it. So in assesing cooking time, use your own judgement. If in doubt, err on the side of shorter cooking because if neccesary you can always rest it for longer or even put it back to cook a little more. You can't reverse overcooked meat. Approx total cooking times including resting, allowing 1-2 minutes per side for browning and then removing to rest about halfway through. For example: for a 3 cm steak served rare, it would have 2 x 1,5 minutes to brown both sides, 3 minutes cooking time, and 5 minutes for resting = 11 minutes. Cooking time: 5 cm steak rare/medium- 15/18 minutes; 3 cm steak rare/medium- 11/14 minutes; 1,5 cm steak rare/mdium- 7/8 minutes; 0,5 cm steak rare/medium- 3/4 (no resting) minutes.

How to cook venison steaks?

First think ahead. Venison steaks should not be kept waiting once ready, so make sure everything else is ready. There are three stages in cooking steaks: browning, cooking and resting. The thinner the piece of meat, the more care is needed and the less time it will need to rest after being browned. Indeed, with very thin pieces (like steaks only half a centimetre)- the cooking and resting time will be so short as to have disappeared.

To brown the steaks: Get your grill, berbecue or frying pan really hot. Use about 2 teaspoons of butter and the same of oil, or just oil if preferred. Because there will be no fat coming out of the venison, you need to use something to prevent the meat sticking to the cooking surface and, very importantly, to produce the caramelisation on the surface of the meat which is what makes it taste delicoius. Heat the pan till the butter has stopped frothing and is starting to turn brown. If using oil only, heat till stirling in the heat but not smoking. Add the steaks and allow them to brown.

To Cook the steaks. Lower temperature although thin steaks of about 1 cm will not need this stage. Thick steaks and whole fillets will need several minutes of cooking while turning them over a few times to distribute the heat. When they are still underdone, they should then be rested.

Resting the steaks is important for two reasons. Firstly, when meat is cooked at high temperatures, the outside- the more cooked part- stiffens a little. Resting meat allows the muscles fibres to relax again, making them tender. Secondly, at this stage of cooking, the steaks are underdone in the middle. The resting process allows the heat from the outside to be transferred into the centre, and it allows the juices in the centre to be drawn back to the outside, a bit like sponge.


4 x 180 g haunch or loin steaks

butter/oil to pan-fry

mixed salad leaves and herbs


grated rind and juice of a lime

2 cm root ginger

1 teaspoon honey

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or 2 of wine vinegar)

6 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Put the lime rind, root ginger (chopped), honey and water into a small pan and simmer for a few minutes to infuse, then whisk them into the rest of the dressing. It should be served slightly warm with steaks. Once cooled, this dressing will keep for weeks.

Fry the steaks very quickly in very hot butter/oil, then remove them from the heat to rest. Place each steak onto the salad leaves. Pour the dressing into the frying pan and amagamate the brownings, then drizzle this nice warm dressing over the steaks and salad.