wood platesToo many cooks ruin great deer steaks! The darker color of venison makes it tougher to see the “pink” interior of a medium rare cut of meat. You already killed the beast, don’t kill it twice. Serving meat that is dry, tasteless and tough makes meat eaters cringe!

Meat fresh off the grill is always delicious. When the meat is done, and the call to the table has been made, it takes several minutes for the guests to fill their plates, eat their salads, and finally cut into the deer eat. Now the meat is cooler, drier, tougher, and overdone.

 If you allow the meat to rest too long, it over cooks. The heat in the meat continues to cook it, even after the steak is taken off the grill. The key is to slightly undercook the meat, then let it finish on its own. Simply place the meat to the cooler side of the grill or into a foil covered dish.

Some simple solutions to these problems are simple adjustments in your grill timing and meal presentation. Allow the guests to begin eating salad and sides before the meat is grilled. Serve the grilled steaks from the grill directly to their plate. This ensures a hot and juicy steak. The “Grill Master” needs to become the Brazilian Style Meat Server. This also means that the Grill Master also gets to sample cuts fresh of their grill.

Marinate your meat to cover any wild game flavor, and to keep the meat moist. The best, simple marinate I have used is equal parts red wine, olive oil, and some Montreal steak seasoning. Place the meat into a glass dish or zip seal bag for at least an hour. I have left the refrigerated meat in this marinate for days. If you are using a tougher cut of meat, tenderize it first.

Make a sauce to add to the meat. Homemade is always best. You can serve some store bought sauce, but it is so easy to prepare your own. There are plenty of choices depending upon your tastes. Here is one of my favorites.

Whiskey Cream Sauce    You can build this sauce on the grill while cooking your meat. Melt some butter in a small cast iron pan, and brown a small diced onion. When the onion is brown, take the pan off the heat and away from any flame, pour in the whiskey. A quarter cup of whiskey is enough. Once the whiskey has evaporated, add a quarter cup of beef stock or broth. Salt and fresh ground pepper is next along with some more butter. Use a whisk to mix and simmer the sauce then add a quarter cup of light cream. Whisk together and add more cream as needed.  Allow to simmer on low heat while you grill the deer steaks.sauce onto a steak

Make as much sauce as you need. This recipe is for a couple large steaks. Once your steaks have been grilled, generously spoon the sauce over top. For medium rare, two minutes for a thin cut of steak is plenty. A thicker steak may require another minute per each side. Use high heat to sear in the juices, and flavor.

Cooking the steaks over a grill, or fire, in a cast iron pan, allows you to make the sauce in the same pan. This way you also get to mix in the crumbles and flavor of the meat. Resting, and serving, the meat in the warm cast iron pan makes for a nice presentation.

If you do not use a sauce over your grilled steak, try melting Bleu Cheese crumbles, and a pad of butter over each steak when served. Sprinkle some fresh garnish on top for color. Remember that the best part of a cake is the icing, or what goes on top.

Always serve your grilled masterpieces in a fancy way. Your meat could be delicious, but if you serve it in a dog food bowl, no one will appreciate it. A decent plate allows for cutting without leaking. Serve the steak already cut into slices. Use a sharp knife to cut across the grain. Lay the slices in a unique pattern and cover with sauce.Grilled elk

Try serving your meal on wood plates or planks! At hunting camp, I have used fresh, pine boards that ended up becoming firewood. So much for washing dishes. Only use, clean, fresh cut boards or wood. Know your wood so to not use something with an odor, chemical, or toxin. Pine is abundant, and splits nicely. Sand the boards to avoid any splinters.  I also use a router to cut a shallow groove around the plates perimeter to capture juices. Cutting the wood plates into a shape that has a handle is fun. Using fresh cut “tree cookies” or wood wheels is simple too. I once cut pine firewood into “cookies”, or wheels, at a hunting camp. To sand them, I used rocks and sand. Once dried, the pine plates were smooth and unique. This takes more time but will be talked about for years!

 Treat you hunter harvest with respect and pride. You want to hear comments like; “That was the best steak I have ever tasted!”, or” Was that Venison?” The whole point of harvesting a deer is to put healthy food on the table. The cost of any deer steak is often ten times the expense of store bought beef. If you treat your meat with that kind of respect, your meals will be admired and appreciated.

Now it is time to Chill! Celebrate the meal with a matching wine. You can also make a Sangria style beverage that does not include alcohol. A refreshing beverage that compliments the meat will also bring compliments to the cook.

Enjoy the great, grilled, wild beast that you harvested!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, visit his website at