Cooking Wild Recipe: Your Guide to Game Steaks

Here are some recipe tasty tips that’ll turn any game steak into a winner!

In my book, a perfectly cooked game steak not only needs — but also deserves a special topping to crown it king of the platter! Below are a few cooking recipe tips specially geared for game and some mouthwatering toppers that add excitement and flair to any steak — be it deer, moose, elk, buffalo, bear or other.

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Tougher, thicker cuts like round or flank, and meat from a mature animal or one that was heavily pursued or harvested during the rut, can be tenderized by marinating which also improves flavour. The two main ingredients in marinade recipe are acid (present in wine, vinegar and beer), which breaks down tough fiber, and oil (my choice being olive), which moisturizes meat. A general rule thumb is to use 1 part acid to 3 parts oil. Spices, herbs and other seasonings are added to instill flavour, juniper berries being a top pick for game soaks

Guideline for Steak Doneness

Many connoisseurs prefer venison served rare to medium rare but when it comes to steaks, diehards can be particular about the doneness of their meat! To take away some of the guesswork, professional chefs often use a meat thermometer to deliver steaks that are done to order. To test for degree of doneness, insert thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the meat and use chart below as a guideline:

Very (Blue) Rare: 130 degrees Fahrenheit/55 degrees Celsius; Meat and juice will be bloody, translucent centre and barely warm (a little too un-done to suit my liking)

  • Rare: 140 degrees Fahrenheit/60 degrees Celsius; Meat will be reddish pink, slightly translucent in centre
  • Medium Rare: 145 degrees Fahrenheit/62 degrees Celsius; Uniformly pink, juicy beads will form on cut surface
  • Medium: 160 degrees Fahrenheit/70 degrees Celsius; Center will be opaque with rosy hue and still very juicy
  • Well Done: 165 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit/74-77 degrees Celsius; Grayish-meat, slightly juicy
  • Very Well Done: 180 degrees Fahrenheit/82 degrees Celsius; Uniform colour, with little to no juice.

Since game steaks tend to be exceptionally lean, cooking them to the max produces a dryer, tougher steak but some diners like it that way and that’s their right!

Caution: Bear meat, like pork, must be fully cooked until internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent trichinosis, thus a bear steak is prime candidate for a juicy topper.

Cooking Methods for Steaks

Searing: Seals in natural juices and is a well-suited cooking method for thinner cuts which will reach desired doneness shortly after searing on both sides. Heat a cast-iron or heavy skillet to very hot and sprinkle lightly with salt. Slip steaks into pan without adding any fat. Sear on both sides until golden and done to liking. Thicker steaks may need fat added to the pan and cooking time increased to reach desired doneness

Frying: A good method for thicker steaks. Melt three to four tablespoons fat in heavy skillet. My choice is butter, but margarine, oil or other fat can be used including pork lard, which was Dad’s pick for venison. Fry steaks turning once or twice as needed until doneness is reached

Grilling and broiling: The difference between the two is that the heat source comes from the bottom when grilling (barbecue), and from the top when broiling (oven broiler). These are ideal methods for thicker, tougher cuts because meat can be marinated first and basted often during cooking to produce tender, juicier steaks. Remove meat from marinate, place on rack and let come to room temperature before cooking

Great Steak Toppers!

Roquefort Cheese Topper Recipe

This sharp, tangy topper sets off fried venison steaks in great style. Transfer cooked steaks to a hot platter and keep warm while making sauce.  Pour three tablespoons brandy into steak drippings and cook until pan is deglazed (browned bits are loosened). Add ¾ cup of heavy cream, three cloves finely minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick. Add ½ cup crumbled Roquefort cheese and cook until melted. Pour over steaks and garnish with fresh parsley.

Grilled Whole Mushrooms

Choose button mushrooms of uniform size, three to four per steak. Recipe: Brush with garlic-infused olive oil. When steaks are almost done, place mushrooms on grill and cook until imprints are made, brushing with additional oil upon rotating. Perched high on a perfectly cooked steak, these look as grand as they taste

Mushrooms in Wine Recipe

I use wild mushrooms when in season, store-bought when not. Recipe: Melt three tablespoons butter in skillet. Sauté one pound sliced mushrooms until juice is released. Add three cloves mashed garlic and one tablespoon finely chopped parsley. Sprinkle with two tablespoons flour, stir until absorbed. Add ½ cup sherry, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until thick and spoon over steaks.

Roasted Garlic & Red Peppers Recipe

This is always a winner, especially good on bear steaks. Recipe: Cut two red peppers in half, place on baking sheet, cut side down, and broil 375 degrees Fahrenheit oven until soft and charred, about 10 minutes. Put in bowl and cover until cool. Meantime put a head of garlic in the microwave and cook on high until soft. Pop garlic cloves out of their skins and mash with a fork.  Mix with ½ cup olive oil. Peel skin off the peppers, if desired, and cut into slices. Pour oil over peppers, season with salt and pepper, mix well and pile on

Herb Butters

Herb butters are a versatile, classic recipe topping. Recipe: In bowl, mix 1/2 cup softened butter, two tablespoon finely chopped fresh herb of choice (rosemary, savory, basil, dill, chives or a mixture of herbs), finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Cream well. Form into a cigar-shaped tube, roll in waxed paper and chill until firm. Slice into thin “coins” and place on top of sizzling steaks. Store leftover herb butter in fridge.

Dad’s Moose-Horseradish Sauce

Dad used a homemade horseradish sauce recipe but store-bought prepared horseradish works great and, regardless of its name, the sauce is delicious on any kind of venison steaks or bear. Recipe: Measure ½ cup mayonnaise into bowl; add three tablespoons minced onion and two tablespoons prepared horseradish. Like dad, I use extra hot horseradish but if you can’t take the heat, use mild. Blend well and dollop on steaks

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