Cooking Wild Recipe: Grilled Deer Chops with Rosemary-Mint Sauce

DEPT_cooking-wildThese mouthwatering venison chops are the ultimate reward of a successful deer hunt.

Here’s a delicious recipe handed-down to me from Mom, who used to make it out of deer chops when we had a prized cache of venison in the freezer and out of lamb chops when we didn’t! I still love it today as much as I did when I was a kid.

Although the old Irish recipe calls for lamb which, according to my taste buds, faintly resembles the flavour of deer. I really do enjoy it more when it’s made from deer meat, especially a prize I bagged, aged and butchered myself to my own liking.

One of the reasons I prefer deer is because it is less fatty than lamb and thus a healthier choice on the table. Of course, what I fancy most about game meats in general compared to domestic raised animals is the fact that they are truly organic.

Venison meats are interchangeable in almost any recipe so you can give this one a try with other members of the family, too. It’s also good with bear and you’ll find it works exceptionally well with wild sheep and goat.

In this recipe the chops are treated to a leisurely soak in marinade to instill a delightful aroma into the meat and also to tenderize it, which is a big bonus— especially when cooking an animal that was heavily pursued in the field or an older trophy.

Here’s a few grilling secrets before you start: To serve a chop that is tender and juicy, do not overcook the meat and do not use extremely high heat. I like to grill my deer chop over medium heat until it reaches medium doneness, which is about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if somebody in my gang prefers his or her meat medium-rare (145 F) or well done (170 F) then I’m happy to oblige. But be careful not to overcook the meat or it will become tough and dry which, of course, is OK if that’s how you like it!

When weather permits I grill the chops on the outdoor barbecue but an indoor electric grill can be used during colder months and you’ll be surprised to find that it works equally well — perhaps even better as the temperature is sometimes easier to control on an electric model than it is on a typical outdoor barbecue.

So thaw out a feed of deer chops and get ready for a memorable meal. Grilled jalapeno and sweet red peppers make a delightfully pretty and super tasty garnish for these tender, juicy chops that go great with steamed rice on the side and glass of red wine to toast the feast.


This is enough marinade for four to six chops but recipe can be increased or decreased as needed. Mix ingredients and pour over meat. Marinate in fridge, turning occasionally, for several hours or overnight if a more infused flavour is desired.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sprig of minced fresh rosemary

Preheat grill to medium heat. Remove chops from marinade and let stand on wire rack long enough to drip dry and come to room temperature. Cook three to five minutes per side for medium rare, six to eight minutes per side for medium and a few extra minutes per side to reach a well done state. Serve with rosemary-mint sauce drizzled over top.

Rosemary-Mint Sauce

Put a half-cup of mint jelly — I use homemade mint jelly but store-bought will do, into a small saucepan along with two tablespoons white wine, two tablespoons honey and one tablespoon fresh minced rosemary. Simmer until reduced to a slightly thickened state. Hold warm until ready to use.

Tip: if you love this spunky sauce on your deer chop, here’s a neat little tip from mom’s old canning book. Next time you make a batch of regular mint jelly, replace a handful or two of mint leaves with fresh rosemary leaves, keeping in mind that the more rosemary leaves you use, the more infused the jelly will be. This makes a tantalizing mint-rosemary jelly that is great in the recipe above and is also delicious with cold venison meats and roasted waterfowl.

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