I learned about this version of country-fried steak from a Mississippi chef, John Currence of City Grocery. Currence’s book Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey is one of my all-time favorite Southern cookbooks, and a version of this recipe is in that book.
Note: Because you’ll be pounding the meat, you won’t need backstrap here, although it still makes the best cutlet. I also use leg steaks that have been stripped of all connective tissue. I like this dish with grits, mashed potatoes, or hash browns.
Ingredients for Caramelized Onions (Optional)
• 3 tbsp butter or lard
• 1 large onion, sliced thin from root to tip
• A pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 tablespoon honey
Ingredients for Venison
• 4 venison medallions
• 2 cups seasoned flour (add salt, black pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder to the flour, all to taste, or use a commercial “fish fry”)
• 3 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• Tabasco sauce
• 3 cups panko breadcrumbs (regular breadcrumbs are fine too)
• Peanut oil or lard
Ingredients for Gravy
• 1/4 cup flour
• 1 cup dark broth (beef or venison)
• 1/4 cup cream
1. If you’re going to add the optional caramelized onions to the gravy, you’ll need to make them first. You can make them several days in advance and keep them in the fridge.
2. To caramelize the onions, heat the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and then add the onions. Toss to coat with the melted butter and sprinkle salt over them, then thyme. As soon as you see some brown edges, turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are totally brown, which can take 30 minutes or so. Add the honey and cook another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove and reserve the onions, and then wipe out the pan.
3. Heat the oven to “warm” and set a baking sheet inside lined with paper towels; you’ll use this to keep the medallions warm while you make the gravy.
4. Put the venison medallions between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound them thin with a meat mallet, rubber mallet, or empty wine bottle. How thin? Your choice. At least 1/4 inch, and as thin as 1/8 inch. Salt the meat and set it aside.
5. To set up a breading station, get 3 large, shallow bowls. In one goes the seasoned flour. In the next go the eggs, cream, a pinch each of salt and black pepper, and just a couple of dashes of Tabasco. In the third go the breadcrumbs.
6. Heat enough peanut oil to come up 1/4 inch along the sides of a cast-iron or other heavy frying pan. Heat it over high heat until a tiny bit of flour sizzles instantly when flicked into it. Look for 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oil is heating up, dredge the venison cutlets in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs. Fry the venison for about 2 minutes per side, until the medallions are just golden-brown. Remove each to the baking sheet in the warm oven while you finish the rest.
7. When the venison is done, pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the oil. To make the gravy, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Mix in the flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, until it turns the color of coffee with cream, about 5 to 10 minutes. Slowly pour in the broth with one hand while you whisk the gravy with the other. It will sizzle and seize up, but keep pouring the broth in slowly until it’s incorporated. Stir in the caramelized onions and simmer the gravy for a few minutes. Add the cream, mix well, and add salt, black pepper, and a touch of Tabasco to taste. Give everyone some cutlets and pour the gravy over them.
Find other venison recipes and learn more about cooking with venison in Savory, Satisfying Venison Recipes.
Hank Shaw is a former cook and reporter who now writes about food, fishing, foraging, and hunting. This article is an excerpt from his latest book, Buck, Buck, Moose.