Got a bunch of deer meat in the freezer? You need wild game recipes for the holidays that are easy to make & crowd friendly! Try these.
Looking to make your holiday meal truly unforgettable this season, why not include wild game main dishes in your menu? If you’re anything like me, you have a freezer full of deer meat but maybe you don’t know if your guests or kids will eat a wild game meal.
If you’ve tried to cook with venison before and you feel like it’s dry or gamey, try one of these recipes below and I bet I can change your mind! These are like Venison Cooking 101, but for the holidays!
Venison offers a cozy and delightful alternative that is both lean, healthy and affordable when compared to quality beef. You can prepare venison in various ways, such as a classic roast, stew, or a ragu for a more unique cooking method.
To enhance its rich flavor, I will teach you how to season the meat perfectly in the recipes below. It’s not always necessary to marinate the venison overnight with a blend of herbs, vegetables and acid but I can give you my marinade recipe and teach you how to cook it to perfection. By doing so, you will ensure a tender and succulent result that pairs beautifully with seasonal sides like roasted root vegetables and cranberry sauce. Venison’s bold and distinctive taste adds an elegant touch to any holiday gathering, making it an excellent choice for those looking to go beyond tradition.
KEY INGREDIENTS AND KITCHEN TOOLS TO HAVE ON HAND WHEN COOKING VENISON
When preparing venison recipes, there are key ingredients that I like to keep in my pantry and fridge so that I can always whip something delicious up when I defrost deer meat from my deep freezer. Here’s what I like to have on hand:
1. Venison: The star of the show, ensuring you have fresh and high-quality cuts is essential. You can also use a variety of game meat for these recipes as well, elk, moose, antelope and so much more!
2. Herbs and Spices: My staples include Italian seasoning, herbs de Provence, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, kosher salt and black pepper. My cookbook has a whole list!
3. Marinades: A good marinade can tenderize the meat and bring out its natural flavors. Consider using red wine, Worcestershire sauce, or balsamic vinegar as a base for your marinades. I also have an incredible All-Purpose Marinade that is perfect for any cut of meat.
4. Stock or Broth: Stock or broth (chicken, vegetable, or beef broth all work) is the perfect liquid ingredient to have on hand to add to recipes, it helps keep the meat moist and intensifies the overall taste. Check out my Homemade Venison Stock recipe!
5. Butter or Olive Oil: These fats are perfect for cooking venison as they add richness and prevent it from drying out.
6. Vegetables: Pairing your venison with vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic cloves, not only adds color to your plate but also complements its earthy flavors. Diced tomatoes and tomato paste are also great ingredients to have on hand for a pop of flavor!
By having these key ingredients on hand, you’ll be well-equipped to create delicious and memorable venison dishes that are sure to be a hit!
There are quite a few kitchen essentials that I always have on hand when cooking with Venison. Whether you are cooking your meat in a smoker, a cast iron skillet, a crockpot, or baking pan, it is always important to make sure you have the best quality equipment to help your meat cook evenly and properly. I also recommend a sharp knife for cutting your meat and a good quality cutting board. Lastly, I always have my thermometer on hand for making sure my venison reaches the proper internal temp. This also makes for a great gift!
DIFFERENT CUTS OF VENISON
There are several different cuts of venison, each with its own characteristics and recommended cooking methods. Here are some of the most common cuts:
1. Tenderloin: This cut is often confused with the backstrap/loin. It is located along the backbone, running parallel to it and on top of the ribcage. Tenderloin is often cooked quickly over high heat and is best served medium-rare to retain its tenderness. It’s small, but mighty.
2. Backstrap: This is one of the most tender and prized cuts of venison. Also known as the loin, the backstrap is another tender cut of venison. It runs along the back, just above the rib cage. It can be cooked similarly to the tenderloin, by grilling, pan-searing, smoking or roasting.
3. Rib Rack: Just like with beef or pork, the rib rack of a deer provides bone-in rib chops OR you can make braised short ribs if the chop is removed.
4. Shank: The shank is the portion of the leg below the knee joint. It is a tougher cut but has great flavor due to the connective tissue and bone marrow it contains. Slow cooking methods like braising or stewing are recommended for shanks to break down the toughness and achieve tenderness. I also like smoking my venison shanks.
5. Shoulder Roast: The shoulder of a deer is a large and tough cut that benefits from slow cooking methods. It can be roasted, braised, or used to make stews, soups, or chili.
6. Neck Roast: The neck of a deer is a tougher cut that is often used for making roast or ground meat due to the presence of a higher amount of connective tissues and fat. Slow cooking methods like braising or stewing are common for neck roast. Neck roasts also make great Ragu.
7. Ground Venison: Ground venison is made by grinding various cuts of venison, including trimmings and less tender cuts. It is versatile and can be used in burgers, meatballs, tacos, chili, and many other dishes.
Remember, cooking times and techniques may vary depending on personal preferences and recipes. Always ensure that venison is properly cooked to your desired level of doneness and follow safe cooking practices.
CHRISTMAS DINNER MAIN DISHES | WILD GAME MEAT EVERYONE WILL LOVE
This is the most juicy and flavorful recipe that is ready to serve in just 30 minutes. There are a few ways to cook it, but roasting it with some amazing spices is sure to be hit!
Rich, smokey flavor that will seriously make this recipe the star of the show this holiday season.
Made right in the slow cooker for a tender, delicious, flavorful meal that is almost completely hands off and the perfect main course.
Take your lasagna to the next level with this perfectly cheese, gooey and delicious recipe. Serve with a side salad and some bread for a filling, hearty meal.
Perfectly tender venison served with w rich red wine sauce that pairs perfectly with some roasted potatoes for a delicious and cozy dinner.
Your guests will be obsessed with these tender and delicious short ribs.
Highly recommend serving this hearty stew to your guests this holiday season. It is so cozy and will make your house smell delightful.
Serve these meatballs with your favorite sauce for and easy meal. You can even use these as apps. I highly recommend prepping a batch and keeping them in the freezer so you can use them as you need them.
The most tender, flavorful and juicy roast that your guests will love. Plus, the leftovers (if there are any) are perfect for serving for lunch the next day.
Follow these steps and impress your family & guests by serving the most amazing venison steaks this holiday season.
OTHER MAIN DISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS | SALMON, TURKEY, OR DUCK WITH ORANGE SAUCE
If you are looking to made an additional main dish for your guests who are not a fan of venison, I have a few recipes I bet they will love. My Easiest Baked Salmon with Lemon Tahini Sauce is quick to whip up and the sauce is so fresh and delicious. If you are looking for a simple turkey recipe that results in a juicy and tender turkey, this recipe is a must try! Another very popular meat to cook for the holidays, but might not quite be traditional is Duck Breasts with Orange Sauce. If cooked properly it is juicy and such an easy dish that will really “WOW” your guests. Don’t forget the orange sauce (made with fresh squeezed orange juice), it makes the most delicious gravy and truly takes it to the next level.
DESSERTS TO PAIR WITH YOUR VENISON | MY GO-TO PIE RECIPE, COOKIES, AND MORE
When it comes to pairing desserts with venison, there are several options that can enhance the rich and savory flavors of the meat. One of my personal favorites is a classic pie, such as my Fresh Strawberry Pie (can be sweetened with honey for a lower sugar option). The delicate and flaky crust, combined with the sweet and tangy filling, creates a perfect harmony with the bold taste of venison. Another delightful choice is to serve venison alongside homemade cookies. Whether it’s chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin, or even shortbread, these cookies all complement the dish splendidly. Their sweetness and texture provide a delectable contrast to the meat. For a more extravagant option, you can indulge in serving venison with a luscious dark chocolate dessert like my Best Ever Chocolate Silk Pie. The intense flavor of the chocolate heightens the earthy tones of the venison, resulting in an opulent pairing that will delight your taste buds.