venison for thanksgiving

Time to Toss the Turkey: 3 Ways to Serve Venison for Thanksgiving

It's about time someone told you: turkey on Thanksgiving is boring, and you should be using venison. If you've grown tired of turkey, then you'll love these three venison recipes that will tantalize your taste buds, gobsmack your guests, and make you hungry for more. So before you do anything, go to the grocery store and buy yourself some olive oil, black pepper, kosher salt, and all the makings for some mashed potatoes to go with your venison meat. Next, find out how your guests like their venison tenderloin cooked and get started. Which one of these wild-game recipes sounds the best to you?

1. Vergessen Der Bird Mit Venison Sauerbraten


Venison sauerbraten is delicious, and it's far more authentic than anything you're likely to find at the nearest German restaurant. Except for the beer, that is. For those unaware, sauerbraten is a German pot roast. It uses cheap cuts, so a shoulder roast or other piece of venison that isn't steak-worthy is perfect. Granted, just about any non-poultry or fish can be used (pork and lamb are also common) but the point is that it uses a tough cut.

You build a marinade for the meat using vinegar, herbs, spices and red wine. This makes for a savory, but slightly sour meal that's simply epic. The acids tenderize the meat as it marinades, which you'll want to give a few days. Sear the meat prior to roasting, then roast low and slow in the marinade, which will make the venison roast miles better. After roasting the venison in marinade, rest the meat while straining the liquid of any solid bits to make gravy. Serve both with traditional German sides if desired (red cabbage, potatoes or spaetzle) or whatever American sides you want.

2. You'll Never Go Wrong With Backstrap Steaks

Backstrap steaks are delicious. Do I REALLY need to say more? If you can't cook a good, I'll let Gordon Ramsay teach you.

That sort of cooking style is much more mainstream than most people think. As sportsmen and women, there's a certain comfort knowing there's a good supply of wild game in the freezer, and the more folks begin to understand that, the better off our overall situation will be. Food procurement should be an involved process, not one we're all so removed from that we don't even understand it. And of course, the way we prepare and serve that food, especially when it's wild game, will naturally promote more respect and awareness in terms of the life an animal lived before it was butchered and processed. No one should be blind to what mass-produced, farm-raised meat means, and encouraging an open mind (and open mouth) is essential.

3. City Slickers Can't Get Venison Pastrami

Arnold Gatilao/CC-BY

Arnold Gatilao/CC-BY

Pastrami is a misunderstood meat, especially when it comes to deer meat. Basically, it's a cheap cut that's been brined and then smoked. The brine tenderizes the meat, then low-and-slow smoking makes it tender, moist and full of flavor. The traditional cut is beef brisket. Essentially, the difference between pastrami and corned beef is the former is smoked after brining. People love it on a sandwich but if you brine and then smoke a big cut, you can serve generous slices alongside traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Like barbecued brisket? Then you'll love a pastrami roast. If you want some for sandwich meat, carve off slices as people dine. Slice the leftovers thin, and pile high on rye for a pastrami sandwich better than any New Yorker can get. It would make for a fantastic Thanksgiving main course.

If your friends and family still whine about not getting Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey after eating these dishes, you need to get new friends and family. Anyone who doesn't appreciate a meal focussed around great-tasting venison loin doesn't appreciate good food.