Venison is considered to be one of the healthiest red meat substitutes that are available to us today. It often takes the place of pork and beef in recipes and also tends to be less expensive than beef.
It’s also really versatile. Venison sausage, venison burger, venison steak – there’s something for you whatever you fancy.
If you’ve never eaten deer meat before I’m sure you’re wondering – what does venison taste like?
Read on to learn all about its taste and texture, as well as how to cook venison recipes. I’ll also explain how you can make venison taste less gamey.
What Does Venison Taste Like?
Deer meat has been known to taste “rich and earthy”, with hints of sage, herbs, and acorns – all of which the animal would have enjoyed during its lifetime.
It has also been described as “gamey”, which means that it has a strong, musky flavor. This flavor is a result of the deer growing up in the untamed wilderness of the forest.
In relation to this, the way the animal is killed affects how its meat tastes. For example, the longer an animal is left alive after being shot, the more pungent the meat will taste, as the animal’s body releases stress chemicals into the bloodstream and tissues.
Generally, venison is considered to be less succulent and contain less fat than traditional, farm-raised beef.
What’s the Texture of Venison Like?
When compared to beef, venison tends to have a firmer texture.
It’s more substantial in terms of how it would feel if you held it in your hand. This being said, though, it’s known for remaining tender, as the muscle fibers that make up the meat are short and thin.
What Tastes Similar to Venison?
Venison, for the most part, has a taste that’s completely unique.
However, being a traditionally “gamey” animal, venison has a similar palette to other large game animals such as elk meat and moose.
It’s also been said that venison tastes similar to a combination of beef and lamb when prepared in certain ways.
How To Cook Venison
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil on your stovetop.
- Add your venison and reduce the heat to avoid water spillage.
- Allow your venison to boil, with the lid on or off, until the meat is slightly pink on the inside but doesn’t release any blood when poked with a fork.
- Drain the water from your meat or scoop it out of the water to serve.
When boiling venison, it’s best to use small cuts of meat. For example, chunks of meat that will be used in a stew or stir fry. Larger, thicker cuts will take considerably longer to cook this way.
- Place your venison into an oven-safe baking dish and preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add your liquid of choice or rub the meat with butter or oil. Be sure not to add too much liquid, but enough that the bottom of your dish has a thin layer, if you opt to go the liquid route.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes per pound of venison.
Consider that smaller portions of venison will require much shorter cooking times. As such, it’s important to keep an eye on them.
Thin and small cuts cook much more quickly than a large venison roast would, and venison is susceptible to becoming overdone fairly quickly.
- Place the venison into a slow cooker. It can be as small or as large as you like.
- If you want to season your meat, this is the time to do it. Add salt, pepper, onions, and whatever else you wish to use to bring out the best flavor in your meat.
- Add a liquid of choice into the slow cooker Commonly, water or beef broth are used. Turn the slow cooker on and fasten the lid, cooking it on low heat for 6-8 hours.
Always remember that with this method, the cook time will vary based on how much meat you’re cooking, as well as how large the chunks of it are.
If you’re cooking venison roast, it’s going to take longer than pieces of venison stew meat.
- To grill venison on the BBQ or an electric grill, start by introducing a smooth, smoky flavor. This can be done by heating the coals for 30 minutes before you begin grilling or by turning your gas-powered grill on medium heat.
- Add your venison to the grill over the hottest part of the coals or just when the oil you used begins to smoke. If you’ve waited long enough you should hear your meat sizzle. Cook your meat for 3-4 minutes on each side and move it to a cooler part of the grill or shut the heat off.
- Cover the top of your venison in a thin layer of butter and return it to the heat, cooking another 3-4 minutes per side. Adding the butter helps the meat to retain its moisture and stay tender.
Remember that the thicker a cut is, the longer it will need to be cooked for.
In addition, also keep in mind that if you’re cooking venison straight from the fridge, it can be difficult to achieve the proper internal temperature for safe consumption.
We’d recommend allowing your meat to sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes before putting it near any kind of heat.
How To Make Venison Taste Less Gamey
Removing the gamey taste from venison starts with the proper cleaning procedure. Ideally, as soon as the animal has been shot, you should begin the process of cleaning the carcass.
The animal should be gutted as soon as possible, as this allows the meat to cool down faster, which helps to prevent the imminent buildup of unpalatable enzymes.
It’s also important to remove the bone, hide, and fat efficiently, as doing so aids the cooling process.
Soaking venison is done before it’s frozen. It’s done because it’s a wonderful way to reduce how “gamey” the meat tastes. Soaking the meat is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what it sounds like — soaking uncooked venison in liquid.
The liquid used can vary, with some choosing to use lemon juice, vinegar, milk, buttermilk, and saltwater. Dairy is by far, however, one of the most common liquids for soaking venison because dairy is known for effectively “bleeding out” meat. Blood is one source of the ever-undesirable gamey flavor.
How To Enhance the Flavor of Venison
A marinade is the go-to flavor enhancer for many venison lovers. It’s quick, easy, and relatively affordable. In addition, marinade comes in a variety of delicious flavors ranging from tart and fruity to salty and savory, so there’s something to appeal to everyone’s taste.
When you opt to use marinade, remember to let your venison meat soak into the marinade while it’s in the fridge.
Leaving it out on the counter sets you up for the multiplication of bacteria on your meat, which can give you food poisoning and other illnesses.
Seasoning is another great way to enhance the taste of your venison – and the best part is that seasoning comes in a range of forms. You can use dried seasoning or fresh herbs and spices. If you’re feeling creative, you could do a mix of both.
Like marinade, the flavors of seasonings are nearly endless and this is made even more true when you consider that you can mix various individual seasonings together to create a custom, tasty seasoning.
Herbs that pair well with venison include bay leaves, sage, rosemary, juniper berries, and sweet marjoram.
Basically, herbs that have a strong enough flavor to stand out against the strong flavor of wild game are ideal for venison.
While venison is low in fat, it’s high in a number of other important nutrients.
For example, three ounces of cooked venison contains 18 grams of protein. It also contains amounts of vitamins K and B12, iron, zinc, and choline.