Thursday, July 5, 2012

Venison Stir-Fry: A WonderWife Recipe without Photos

It's quarter to two in the afternoon at our house. I dropped a friend off at the airport this morning after a wonderful five-day visit that felt like five minutes. William is taking his monster nap, the house is a bit disheveled, and I don't feel like cleaning it. The end of our friend's visit signifies a return to "real life" - the responsibilities and commitments of my day-to-day were somewhat suspended for six weeks while I fell in love with my baby boy, visited with family and friends, and had nothing more to do than clean the house and make dinner - and now those commitments are roaring back in like a train at the station! Of course the day-to-day brings a lot of joy, and getting back on that train will be fun, but saying goodbye to a sweet time of carefree bonding is a little sad! Am I the only one who feels this way?

Anyway, to signify my hopping back on the train, I'm posting a recipe. HOWEVER, since I'm not quite back in the swing of things, there are no photos. I guess this is good news if you'd like to pass on the sight of raw meat (probably!) and since you probably already know what you're doing in the kitchen (most likely!).

Here goes.

Venison Stir-Fry

Introductional note: 
Brian loves to hunt. That is an understatement, of course, so believe me when I say we eat a LOT of venison. So this recipe goes out to anyone who might be in my shoes - having a freezer full of deer meat and having to come up with several ways to cook it.

Venison is very lean, and needs to be cooked properly or else it will be very tough and dry. Therefore, you need to cook it very high and fast OR cook it low and slow. Now, this requirement made it very difficult for me to make a good venison stir-fry. All stir-fry recipes say to slice raw meat very thinly, cook it over very high heat, and then add vegetables to finish it off. But that method left me with thin, TOUGH disks of meat. If I sliced the raw meat into chunkier pieces, hoping the inside would stay a bit pink (and therefore be more tender), I found that the stir fry didn't really meld together. You had to chew the meat three times longer than the vegetables, and it didn't work to take bites of the two together.

On top of all this, I needed to find a way to use up the tough, lean shoulder pieces. The backstrap and tenderloin pieces are super tender and juicy, and the hindquarter cuts are best for roasts and stews. Now the shoulder pieces, which Brian labels "steak", are free of the pesky sinew of the hindquarters, but aren't as tender as the nicer cuts.

Now, I realize I may be the only one in the world with these two dilemmas, hence making this the most boring blog post ever. That's okay. If I can help one person out there someday, when they Google "venison stir fry" (or more appropriately, "all my attempts at venison stir fry are disastrous"), this will all be worth it!

Finally, after a few years, and finally deciding that I would never make a decent stir fry, I figured it out! This is more of an instructional than a recipe, I suppose. It's how I roll, now that I'm a pro. : )

Venison Stir Fry

First, make a batch of this if you want comfort food. OR, make a batch of this, if you're going low-carb like we currently are. Set aside.

Secondly, chop the vegetables you'd like. For us, stir fry is perfect with mushrooms, broccoli, snow peas, and a few cloves of garlic. If I have time to caramelize some onions at the beginning, I will, but I usually stick with onion powder since Brian hates them raw. You could use a frozen stir fry mix, if you like. Set the veggies aside.

Next, take your cut of meat - ours is usually a bit less than a pound - sprinkle salt on it, and place it on a thick cutting board. Cover with two sheets of plastic wrap, and then - here's the kicker - pound the meat. I use a clean hammer. (You could use a mallet made specifically for this purpose, but that's no fun.)

You want to pound very firmly, flattening the meat as much as possible. Mine usually starts about three inches thick and winds up being less than an inch all over. It's okay if the hammer/mallet makes a "hole" in the meat here or there. Not only are you helping it cook evenly, you're tenderizing it too. Periodically, smush your hand over the plastic-covered meat to gauge whether it's an even thickness.

When it is, flip it over, sprinkle with more salt, cover it again, and pound it on the other side. Get it nice and thin and tenderized.

Now it's ready. Cook this "steak" - all in one piece - over the grill on high heat or in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook for about four to five minutes a side, or until it reaches medium doneness. Take it off heat and tent with foil.

Next, cook your veggies over high heat with some olive oil and salt. After a few minutes, turn to low. You want them to be crisp-tender, not overdone.

Turn your attention back to the meat. It should have been resting for about five minutes now. Take a large, sharp knife, and slice it EXTREMELY thinly. I'm talking deli-meat-thin here.

Return the sliced meat AND the accumulated juices to the pan with the veggies. Add a few tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, too, or your favorite stir fry sauce. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan with your spatula and mix it ALL together.

Serve over rice or cabbage!

This way of cooking the meat gives you melt-in-your-mouth tender venison meat to mix into a stir fry. It may be a bit unconventional, but it works. It's one of our favorite dishes now.

(You can also try the thinly sliced meat on a bun with melted cheese, onions, and mushrooms. It's like a Philly cheesesteak, and it's good!)

Okay, I know I said there weren't any photos, but here's a picture of my son. Okay, two. Humor me. : )



  1. Mmm,I love stir fry,but I don't have a hunter husband, so I guess I'll keep using regular steak in mine. I enjoyed reading the recipe though!

    And your kid is stinkin' cute - beautiful pictures!

  2. I still can't believe you have a baby,Maegan! I can't wait to meet him! He is adorable. :-)