This is my master roast recipe. It’s the venison equivalent of roast beef. The older your animal was, the more important it will be to use single-muscle cuts. This recipe will not melt any of the connective tissue that separates muscle groups, and the finished roast should have tough veins of still-hard connective tissue running through it.
Many single-muscle roasts benefit from trussing with kitchen twine. Doing this will help keep the roast compact, which means it will cook more evenly.
A note on the oil: I absolutely love the flavor that roasted squash seed oil brings to venison. You can find it in some stores, but your best bet will be to buy squash seed oil online. That said, any good oil will work — olive oil, walnut oil, or even sesame oil. The point is to use an oil that will add flavor to the roast.
Serve this with something green and whichever starch you fancy. Mashed, baked, or roasted potatoes are traditional, but I like German dumplings.
• A 2- to 4-pound venison roast
• 1/4 cup squash seed oil or other flavorful oil
• 2 tablespoons minced sage, rosemary, or thyme, or a combination of these
• 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
• About 1 cup red wine, stock, or water
• 3 or 4 celery stalks
1. Take the venison roast out of the fridge and salt it well. Let it sit on a cutting board for 30 minutes before proceeding. After 30 minutes have elapsed, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Pat the venison dry, and then massage the oil all over it. Coat the roast with the minced herbs and black pepper. Pour enough wine, stock, or water into the bottom of the roasting pan to moisten the bottom — don’t completely cover the bottom or the meat will steam. You just want to limit the amount of smoke you’ll eventually be producing. Set the celery stalks in the roasting pan and put the venison on top to keep the meat up off the liquids.
3. Set the pan in the oven and roast until the deepest part of the meat reaches the temperature you want; if you pull the venison at 100 degrees, you’ll be on the way to rare. I pull mine at 110 degrees. Don’t let the venison cook past 130 degrees under any circumstances, or it’ll get tough and gray. How long will this take? A general rule is about 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees.
4. Remove the pan and jack the oven up to 450 degrees. You might want to drizzle a little more oil over the roast at this point. When the oven hits temperature, set the pan back in and roast until the venison is nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Be vigilant about temperatures here: For rare, you’ll want the temperature at the meat’s center to be 110 degrees, and for medium, you’ll want it to be 125 degrees or so. When the venison has hit the temperature you want, move it to a cutting board and let it rest. If the meat is more than 10 degrees lower than you want it, tent it with foil. Don’t carve it for at least 10 minutes; I wait a full 15 minutes. Carve and serve.
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.