Recipe Blog 3: Balsamic Glazed Venison

The holiday season is the best time for a good meal.


Oliver Hinson

Venison is a quality meat if prepared correctly.

Oliver Hinson

A few weeks ago, I came home on a wintry day to find my new neighbors outside on their porch. Being proper, I struck up a conversation, despite not knowing them very well at all, and to my surprise, they were some of the nicest people I’d ever met. Normally, I take a while to warm up to new people, but given the circumstances, I was all for this new friendship, and before long, they had offered me some fresh meat as a gift. Of course, I obliged. That was the quickest I had ever gone from standing outside, minding my own business, to carrying 3 Walmart bags worth of different kinds of venison. It’s not often that I’m the recipient of this much generosity, so I take on the endeavor of using this gift responsibly.

Cooking takes on a different meaning when you’re using special ingredients. The meat that I’m using for this recipe has a different, more intensified significance from anything I could buy at a store, which makes it imperative that I prepare it right. That’s a lot of pressure to place on a chef, but the spirit of giving shines bright at Christmas, and I’m certainly confident in my ability to give the gift of food.

The crushed tomatoes add some sweetness to the marinade. (Oliver Hinson)

First, though, a bit about venison itself. Depending on what cut you’re using, there are various preparation techniques, but a few things remain true throughout. The meat has a very low fat content, making it one of the healthiest options out there, with less calories than chicken and far less than beef. However, unless you want to rip your teeth off trying to chew through it, you CANNOT overcook it. Unlike chicken and pork, venison does not have to be cooked all the way through, which makes medium rare the preferred temperature, and anything else an abomination. Likewise, a marinade can be effective in sealing in juices as well as adding flavor to your dish, and depending on what your taste buds enjoy, this could take several different forms. Venison works with a variety of different flavors, from herbs to fruits and even alcohol. In my case, I like a balsamic glaze, which allows us to add some sweetness, and when combined with tomato, basil, and a variety of other elements, the meat will come out of the marinade with flavor oozing from its pores. Salted, seared, and served with sides, this dish is hard to pass up on.

Ingredients (meat and marinade):

  • 6 small venison medallions
  • 12 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, diced and smashed
  • 3 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Additional olive oil

Ingredients (vegetables):

  • 1 lb French beans, halved and ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Lemon juice as desired
  • Balsamic vinegar as desired
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper

Directions (meat and marinade):

  1. Smash tomatoes, mix all ingredients except venison and additional olive oil in a large Ziploc bag. Move around thoroughly until all ingredients are combined well.
  2. Place venison in the bag and cover with as much marinade as possible. Place in the refrigerator for 8 hours.
  3. Take out venison. Brush with additional olive oil.
  4. Heat cast iron pan to highest temperature, and place in venison. If the meat is not loudly sizzling when placed in, the pan needs to be hotter. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. After both sides are done, turn heat to simmer and add butter to the pan. With a spoon, baste with butter (use the spoon to scoop some melted butter and drizzle it on top of the meat repeatedly) for another 3-4 minutes. Plate with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Directions (vegetables)

  1. Place olive oil in a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Place in green beans and stir constantly until browned and crispy, about ten minutes.
  2. Towards the end of the cooking process, add garlic and pepper and stir. Add lemon juice and balsamic as desired, but keep in mind that you don’t want to overwhelm the beans with either flavor. I would use between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of each, depending on your preference and familiarity with both. Continue to cook until your fluids have evaporated.

Serve with toasted French or Italian bread, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Enjoy!

Oliver Hinson