As a child growing up in the South, my mother would make the most delicious pan fried venison steak recipe I’d ever tasted; of course, I was a child then and pretty much anything mom cooked was good, but this recipe has lasted quite a few generations, because it is just that good. By soaking the venison in buttermilk overnight or at least for an hour, the meat becomes even more tender, and some say it even helps pull out any gaminess.
This is a great recipe to serve up after the holidays to try to get rid of leftover mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. We typically heat up all the leftovers, pile it in a bowl, and lay the pan fried venison steaks on top – one bowl meals are my favorite + getting rid of leftovers is always a win-win.
I’ve seen a lot of hunters and cooks use only backstrap for this recipe, but I’ve struggled with that throughout the years, because it’s one of the best cuts of meat and works perfectly fine with just some salt and pepper. However, this year, we were lucky enough to more than fill our freezer, so I tried it with a backstrap. It is indeed a tasty, tasty way to cook up backstrap, but I think regular venison steaks work just as well.
Why Soak Meat in Buttermilk + A Quick Buttermilk Recipe
Soaking meat in milk is a Southern tradition that I’m more than happy to bring to any Colorado table. Buttermilk has high acidity levels that works to tenderize just about any meats you soak in it, including chicken. For a backup, you can always just use milk, or opt to make your own buttermilk by mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Mix the ingredients together, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
- The mixture should start to curdle/thicken a bit.
Can Milk Pull Out Gaminess?
I really have no idea, and feel that it’s probably just an old Southern tradition/old-wives tale, but in the South, they swear that milk can draw out the gamey flavor in wild game. My husband has always taught me that to get rid of gaminess, cut out as much silver skin as possible. Because of this, I’ve never had an issue with any of our meat having a gamey taste.
Pan Fried Venison Steak Recipe
- 2 lbs Venison Steak or Backstrap
- 2 cups Buttermilk See recipe above if you don't have buttermilk on hand.
- 2 tbls Hot Sauce I like Frank's Red Hot for this recipe.
- 2 cups Frying Oil Or your favorite deep fryer.
- 3 Eggs
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 2 cups Flour
- 3 tbls Your Favorite Seasoning I like Tony Chachere's, but some like Greek seasonings better.
- Pound meat to about 1/4" thin by covering the meat steaks with plastic wrap and pounding with a cooking mallet/tenderizer. I usually use the flat end first, remove the plastic, and then hit the steaks one more time with the tenderizer (spikey) end of the mallet.
- Place steaks in a bowl large enough to hold the steaks and about 2 cups of buttermilk. With the steaks in the bowl, cover them with buttermilk and a few shakes of hot sauce. Let the steaks marinade in the buttermilk overnight in a sealed container or up to one hour in the open bowl.
- Heat up your cooking oil to 350°F in a high-edged pan - a big cast iron pan works perfectly for this. The last time I made this, I used bacon grease, because that was all I had on hand. Oh my, the flavor of the pan fried venison steaks were amazing!
- As your oil is heating, mix together the eggs and buttermilk in one pie plate, and the flour and your favorite seasoning in another.
- Now this part is up for debate, depending on what Southern cook you speak to, but for my recipe, I dip the steaks once in the milk mixture, once in the flour mixture, and into the fryer it goes. But some prefer to double-dip the steaks - again in the milk mixture and again in the flour mixture - before frying them, because it adds an extra-thick batter. Some would say this is the only way to fry up chicken fried steak (fried venison steaks), but I prefer to have a heavier meat flavor and lighter batter flavor. If I was to really bring in my Southern roots, I'd put the flour in a paper grocery bag, and add the the steaks to the bag after dipping them in the milk mixture. Fold the paper bag over and shake, shake, shake to evenly cover the steaks. This is a great way to keep the mess of dredging to a minimum, and if you have OCD like me, this is the BEST way to keep your anxiety levels down. If you don't have a paper grocery bag, you can use any big container with a lid.
- Fry the steaks in the pan for 3-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.