I don’t know what percentage of deer hunters also hunt morel mushrooms, but it has to be more than half, so venison with morels is a natural pairing. The only hitch is that you’ll need to tuck away some backstrap or tenderloin from fall until spring. Of course, you can also make this recipe with dried morels from the previous spring.
If you make this with dried morels, as I sometimes do, you’ll need about 1 ounce, a really big handful. Pour boiling water over them and soak them while you let the venison come to room temperature. Remove, squeeze out excess water, and chop. Save 1 cup of the water and strain it through a paper towel. Then, when it comes time to put the mushrooms in the pan, instead of the fresh morels, you’ll add the chopped, reconstituted morels plus the water.
• 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of venison steak or boneless backstrap
• 2 cups chopped fresh morels, about 12 ounces (1 ounce if using dried morels)
• 1 cup minced onion
• 2 tablespoon canola oil, grapeseed oil, or lard
• 3 tablespoon butter, lard, or duck fat
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1/2 cup port or red wine
• 1 cup glace de viande, or 2 cups venison or beef stock boiled down by half
• Black pepper to taste
1. Take the venison out of the fridge and salt it well. Let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes while you chop the mushrooms and onion.
2. Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
3. Pat the venison dry with a paper towel and sear it in the pan, about 2 minutes per side, or until the meat is done to your liking. Remove the venison and set it on a cutting board to rest.
4. Add the onion and morels to the pan. They’ll sizzle for a moment, and then the morels will begin to release their water (see above for dried morel instructions). Let almost all the water boil away before adding the butter. Toss the mushrooms and onion to coat with the butter. Sear this hard for a couple of minutes without disturbing — you’ll want to get some browning. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir it in. Add the port (it might flame up as the alcohol burns off), and then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the port almost boil away, and then add the glace or stock.
5. Boil this down for up to 3 minutes until the sauce comes together.
6. Pour any juices from the venison that have accumulated on the cutting board into the sauce. Add black pepper and salt to taste, and serve with the venison.
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.