Recipes always mean more to me when they come with a story, and my story for venison stroganoff comes with a memory from my own family of origin. Mom didn’t have much occasion to cook with venison, but she sure had a way with a flank steak! So my recipe for venison stroganoff was inspired by my best recollection of my mom’s recipe for beef stroganoff. (If you don’t have any venison backstrap handy, you could certainly substitute flank steak or sirloin for it in this recipe.)
Whenever our family was having super important company over for dinner, I was given the Herculean task of attempting to suction all dead skin cells out of our environment – an activity that is also known as vacuuming and dusting – which I abhorred. The cruelty of my mother knew no bounds! But apart from that one aspect of inhumane treatment, I’d get pretty excited, because it usually meant that Mom was going to fix beef stroganoff.
She used what allegedly was Mitch Miller’s recipe. You can google it if you like. I did, and found not much that appealed. Basically, Mitch Miller was a master of mediocre music, whose complete lack of vision reached its apex with his refusal to sign the Beatles to his record label. Capitol Records thanks him. But the one thing he did right was inspire my mom to make a wonderful dish.
I remember how it tasted, in general. There was a lot of flavor, there were a lot of mushrooms, some sour cream was stirred in at the end, and she served it on top of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice Blend. I decided that I could probably approximate it, by using a recipe by Tyler Florence as a base. It sounded similar to what I recollected Mom’s tasted like. And I found HIS recipe to be pretty similar to Julia Child’s recipe for Sauté de Boeuf, that I’ve made before and loved. So…really….how bad can this be???
I don’t know how things are with your family’s budget, but it seems like it’s the rare occasion when my family of today can afford beef. But if you live in the mid-South, and someone in your family is a skilled hunter, well, Middle Tennessee grows some mighty delicious free range/no-added hormone meat, that is there for the cost of the hunting license: I refer to the estimable Jane Doe.
And we do know how to cook venison here, at my house: very, very well!
IMPORTANT: To be delicious, there are a couple of things you need to know about cooking venison.
Venison tastes best when cooked rare to medium rare. Do NOT over brown it as you’re sautéing it for this recipe: you want it to still be pink in the middle. (Venison that is overly cooked tastes slightly livery, and this is what turns many people off, causing them to say that they “don’t like venison”. When cooked properly, venison is delicious!)
ALSO IMPORTANT: if you overcrowd the pan when you’re sautéing any kind of protein, rather than browning, the protein will “steam” itself. So, for this dish, if the pan is overcrowded, the venison will steam, rather than caramelize/brown. You can tell it’s steaming when the meat kind of goes gray, rather than browning. So get your oil nice and hot, and don’t overcrowd the pan. Far better to brown your meat in two batches. It will take a few more minutes, but you’ll be so much happier with the flavor.
I was recently sent this Microplane Multi-Purpose Food Slicer to review, and I have to say, it did speed up the mushroom slicing process for making stroganoff. I’ll show you how it works.
Now, for once in my life, I’m going to be almost nicer than my mom. I’m going to share this recipe with you, and I’m not going to make you vacuum and dust my house. However, if you try this, and like it as much as I do, please send money to go toward the cost of a cleaning lady, so that I can continue to crank out delicious recipes to you….FOR FREE! (When I really ought to be vacuuming and dusting.)
Without further ado, here’s the recipe for:
Venison Stroganoff on White and Wild Rice
- Sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 lbs. venison backstrap, chopped into 1 1/2” cubes/bite sized pieces
- 2 lbs. white button mushrooms
- 1/2 c. chopped shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 c. cognac
- 1 t. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 c. cream
- 1 T. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1 or 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 c. parsley, chopped
- One box of Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice, prepared according to package directions
- Season the sliced backstrap with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Swirl a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large Dutch oven or cast iron skillet, and get the pan nice and hot. Quickly brown the exterior of the venison. It only takes a minute or two. Brown it in two batches, if necessary, in order not to overly crowd the pan. Remove the browned venison to a plate.
- Add a couple more tablespoonfuls of oil to your Dutch oven or skillet, and continue to heat. Add mushrooms, and cook for 3 minutes, until brown. Add shallots to pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Add minced garlic, rosemary and thyme to pan and cook until all become fragrant, about another minute. Remove pan from heat, and carefully add cognac to deglaze the pan. Return pan to heat, and add cream. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Turn off heat and stir in Dijon mustard and sour cream. Add the venison and any juices on the plate back into the sauce. Season to taste, with sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Ladle sauce over long grain white and wild rice blend, or buttered noodles. Garnish with chopped green onions, and chopped parsley.
- IMPORTANT: Venison tastes best when cooked rare to medium rare. Do NOT over brown it: you want it pink in the middle. (Venison that is overly cooked tastes slightly livery, and this is what turns many people off, causing them to say that they “don’t like venison”. When cooked properly, venison is delicious!)
- ALSO IMPORTANT: if you overcrowd the pan, venison will steam, rather than caramelize/brown. You can tell it’s steaming when the meat kind of goes gray, rather than browning. So get your oil nice and hot, and don’t overcrowd it.