Food & Drink

Country Fried Venison Steak

Serves 4

Wild game cooking master Hank Shaw turns venison into comfort food

Photo: Holly A. Heyser

“This is the American descendent of jägerschnitzel. You’ll find it all over the South and especially around Texas and Oklahoma. I learned about this version of country-fried steak from a Mississippi chef, John Currence of City Grocery. Currence’s book Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey is one of my all-time favorite Southern cookbooks, and a version of this recipe is in that book. I like this with grits, mashed potatoes or hash browns.” —Hank Shaw

Note: Because you are pounding the meat, you don’t need backstrap here, although it still makes the best cutlet. I will also use leg steaks that have been stripped of all connective tissue.


  • Caramelized Onions (optional)

    • 1 large onion, sliced thin from root to tip

    • 3 tablespoons butter or lard

    • A pinch of salt

    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

    • 1 tablespoon honey

  • For the Venison

    • 4 venison medallions

    • Salt

    • 2 cups seasoned flour

    • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

    • 1/2 cup heavy cream

    • Tabasco sauce

    • 3 cups panko breadcrumbs (regular are fine, too)

    • Peanut oil or lard (see below for amount)

  • Gravy

    • 1/4 cup flour

    • 1 cup dark broth, beef or venison

    • 1/4 cup cream

    • the caramelized onions


  1. For the caramelized onions:
    If you’re going to add the caramelized onions to the gravy, you need to make them first. It can even be done several days in advance, and you can just keep the caramelized onions in the fridge; it’s always a good idea to have some handy, anyway.

  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and cook the onions. Toss to coat with the oil and sprinkle the salt over them, then the thyme. As soon as you see some brown edges, turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are totally brown. This can take 30 minutes or so. Add a dollop of honey and cook another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the onions and reserve, then wipe out the pan.

  3. For the venison:
    Heat the oven to “warm” and set a baking sheet inside lined with paper towels.

  4. Put the venison medallions between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them thin with a meat mallet, rubber mallet or empty wine bottle. How thin? Your choice. At least ¼ inch, and as thin as ⅛ inch. Salt the meat and set it aside.

  5. Set up a breading station. Get three large, shallow bowls. In one goes the seasoned flour. In the next goes the eggs, cream, some salt and black pepper, and just a couple dashes of Tabasco. In the third goes the breadcrumbs.

  6. Heat enough peanut oil to come up ¼ inch along the sides of a cast-iron or other heavy frying pan. Heat it over high heat until a tiny bit of flour sizzles instantly when flicked into it. You are looking for 350°F. While the oil is heating up, dredge the venison cutlets in the flour, then egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs. Fry the venison for about 2 minutes per side, just until they are golden brown. Remove each to the baking sheet in the warm oven while you finish the rest.

  7. For the gravy:
    When the venison is done, pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the oil. Heat it over medium-high heat. Mix in the flour and cook this, stirring almost constantly, until it turns the color of coffee-with-cream, about 5 to 10 minutes. Slowly pour in the broth with one hand while you whisk the gravy with the other. It will sizzle and seize up, but keep pouring the broth in slowly until it is incorporated. Stir in the caramelized onions and simmer the gravy for a few minutes. Add the cream, mix well, and add salt, black pepper and a touch of Tabasco to taste. Give everyone some cutlets and pour the gravy over.

Buck Buck Moose.jpg

Recipe and text reprinted with permission from Buck, Buck, Moose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Deer, Elk, Moose, Antelope and Other Antlered Things © 2016 by Hank Shaw.