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What Are Venison Steaks?

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  • Written By: Angie Bates
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2016
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Eaten in many countries longer than beef, venison steaks are high quality deer meat cut from the back half of a deer. Often hunted wild, deer are also raised on farms, particularly in New Zealand and the United States. Venison is considered healthier than beef because of its low fat, high protein content. These steaks are available in the same cuts as beef steaks: rib eye, sirloin, flank steak, New York Strip, and so on.

Venison steaks may be made from any type of deer, such as red or white tail, which are in the family Cervidae. Whereas wild deer is often thought of as gamey, farm-raised deer tends to have less of a gamey taste. The gamey taste, a strong, sometimes unpleasant taste associated with wild animals, is due to animals' diets, the sporadic availability of food, and even their last moments when hunted. Since farm-raised deer have regular, high quality food sources, many believe the gamey taste is less apparent in the farm-raised stock.

Partly because of the gamey taste, venison steaks are often marinated before cooking. Though there are recipes which do not suggest marinating venison steak, most do. Venison is said to take on the flavors of what the deer eats most frequently. For that reason, it is sometimes described as having a woody or sweet taste.

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When choosing a venison steak, it is important to pay careful attention to the coloring. Darker meat with white fat is the best choice for taste. This meat is younger and will be more tender and tasty after cooking. Though venison is often hard to find in grocery stores, there are numerous places where it can be ordered online. Many places can ship either fresh or frozen steaks — steaks can usually be frozen from three to six months.

In addition to eating steaks as a main course, venison steaks may also be sliced into about 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick strips and made into jerky. Venison jerky is made by marinating the strips in salt and other spices overnight. Then the salted strips are baked at a very low temperature for about six hours.

Venison steak may also be cut in cubes and put into stews or skewered with fruits or vegetables and cooked as shish kebabs. They may be cut into slices for stir fry, or even chicken fried. The usual suggestion for doneness, however, is medium rare for the best flavor.

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