A nutrition gem in the red meat world! Venison is deer meat. If hunted, it is considered wild meat. If you are buying at a store or restaurant, it is farmed meat (selling wild game meat is illegal in the US) and likely a bit more tender with a more mild flavor.
We prepared venison loin steaks in class on Monday and I had an eye opening experience. They were delicious. And beautiful. The raw steaks are a deep ruby red that reminded me of tuna tartar. They were perfectly clean with no visible fat or gristle to trim.
We began by seasoning the venison steaks with salt and then sauteing in a hot saute pan on all sides. We cooked them rare – which is important with a meat like venison. Over-cooking a very lean meat with a dry heat method, such as sauteing, would result in rubber and something nobody would want to eat. Personally I would have taken mine more medium-rare. You could cook venison in a stew or braise if you fear rare meat and this would keep it tender, while thoroughly cooking.
After sauteing and resting the venison, we prepared a pan sauce with red wine, red wine vinegar, stock, and caramelized chestnuts. The venison was sliced thinly into medallions and fanned out on top of a butternut squash puree, then topped with roasted wild mushrooms, and finished with the sauce. The colors of the plate were beautiful – the deep red center of the meat encased in a browned and crisped exterior, the bright orange squash, and the deep purple of the pan sauce. The components went together perfectly. Venison can taste a bit gamey (though not nearly as much as lamb in my opinion) – but the sweetness of the roasted squash and caramelized chestnut sauce perfectly offset the venison. The earthy and wonderful roasted mushrooms topped it off. My first bite was followed by a soft “Mmm…”
3 Oz Beef Tenderloin (Fat trimmed) vs. 3 Oz Venison Loin:
Calories: 208 – 130
Protein: 23 gr – 26 gr
Fat: 12 gr – 2 gr
Saturated Fat: 5 gr – 0.9 gr
Cholesterol: 72 mg – 67 mg
Both are good sources of iron, zinc and selenium like most red meats. But I think we see a clear winner.
The good: Possibly the leanest red meat you can find.
The bad: Hard to find, likely expensive if you do, and care must be taken in cooking and preparation.
Recommendations: Venison gets a nutritional A++. If you can find venison in your area, or know someone who hunts, you are one lucky person. If you are a city slicker like me, try a venison steak at a restaurant – but do not ask for it to be cooked more than medium rare. If that scares you, go for a venison burger – the grinding process tenderizes the lean meat and it can be cooked through without becoming very tough.