Introducing the Deer Tomahawk Steak: A Flavorful Delight

If you’re fortunate enough to have a collection of venison chops on hand, then you’re in for a treat. This recipe will not only help you appreciate these cuts but also allow you to make the most of them. Cooking venison chops or backstrap medallions is a breeze, requiring nothing more than a hot pan or grill, some salt, pepper, lemon, and good technique. It’s easy to achieve a mouthwatering result that will leave you craving more.

Venison Chops

Understanding Deer Chops

Deer chops, also known as cuts of meat from the backstrap or loin, are highly sought after. They run along the deer’s back, from the shoulder to the hindquarter. When prepared as a whole, they are often referred to as the backstrap. However, chops can also be portioned with part of the backbone or rib, resembling a “tomahawk steak,” or boneless.

In essence, chops are delicious cuts sourced from the loin meat that runs next to the spine. While some people choose to butterfly their chops for a larger surface area, I prefer leaving them whole for this recipe. By doing so, you prevent overcooking and maintain a tender texture, reminiscent of a filet mignon from beef tenderloin. It’s important to note that chops come from the loin, not the tenderloin, debunking a common misconception.

Patting Raw Deer Meat Dry

The Secret to Tender Venison Chops

Venison chops are inherently tender due to their lack of connective tissue and non-loadbearing nature. Muscles that bear more weight tend to have more muscle fibers, making them tougher. For instance, shoulder meat is best left on the bone and braised low and slow to break it down. Connective tissue can be chewy if not cooked properly, so it requires a slower cooking process to melt away.

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To keep venison chops tender, the key is to avoid overcooking. Aim for medium-rare or even rare plus, removing the steaks from the heat source when they reach an internal temperature of 115-125°F. By doing so, you ensure a succulent and tender result that will leave your taste buds delighted.

Venison Soaked in Buttermilk

Marinating: Is it Necessary?

Contrary to popular belief, marinating is not essential when it comes to deer chops or the backstrap. While it can add a different flavor profile or mask the taste of deer meat, it’s not mandatory. This recipe demonstrates how you can create the best venison chops in the world without the need for a marinade. However, if you find yourself in any of the following situations, you might want to consider marinating:

  • If you have an animal with less palatable meat due to factors such as age, gender, location, diet, time of year harvested, hormones present during the time of kill, improper field dressing, or improper processing (as long as the meat is still safe to eat).
  • If you’re not particularly fond of the taste of venison but don’t want to waste it.
  • If you’re cooking for individuals who are skeptical about wild game.
  • If you have an abundance of meat in the freezer and crave a change.

Venison Chops on a Plate

Mastering the Art of Cooking Venison Chops

Preparing perfect venison chops couldn’t be simpler. Start by removing the chops from the refrigerator and letting them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This allows for more even cooking. Before searing, make sure to pat the meat dry. This step ensures a better and more substantial sear, resulting in a delicious crust.

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Next, heat a cast-iron pan or grill over medium-high heat. Although both methods work well, the cast-iron technique will be discussed here. Once the pan is hot, generously salt the meat and pat it dry once again. Add a high heat-tolerant cooking fat, such as duck fat or avocado oil, to the pan. Place the chops in the pan and cook until you achieve a nice sear on one side, which usually takes about 2-5 minutes. Flip the meat and add butter, smashed garlic cloves, and fresh thyme to the pan. Tilt the pan to the side and baste the meat by spooning the melted butter and aromatic mixture over it.

The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your chops. Once the internal temperature reaches around 115-125°F, remove the meat from the pan. If you’re using a grill, flip the chops and grill for 2-5 minutes on each side. Remember, venison should not be cooked beyond medium-rare. I personally prefer rare plus for the best flavor. Allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain.

Season the venison chops with fresh cracked pepper, flakey salt (or regular salt if that’s what you have), and a squeeze of lemon. Voila! You’re done. It’s as simple as that.

Venison Chops on a Plate

Required Ingredients

To create these delectable deer chops, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Venison chops
  • Salt (preferably good quality, such as Celtic sea salt for cooking and Maldon sea salt for finishing)
  • High heat-tolerant oil (such as duck fat, avocado oil, tallow, or clarified butter)
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Lemon
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Prep and Storage

This main dish is incredibly fast and easy to prepare, making it best enjoyed right after cooking. To prepare, simply defrost your meat and ensure you have all the required ingredients (although chances are you already do). You can defrost the chops on a paper towel-lined plate to aid in the drying process.

Reheating venison steaks or chops is not recommended, as it can result in overcooked meat. Due to its low fat content and unique “wild flavor,” it’s best enjoyed freshly cooked. However, if you do have leftovers, consider enjoying them cold over a steak salad. The Blue Cheese Steak Salad from the cookbook “Venison Every Day” is a divine option.

Other Delicious Recipes

If you’re looking for more venison-inspired dishes, here are a few recommendations:

  • Venison Burgers
  • Venison Tacos
  • Smoked Venison Tenderloin
  • Venison Egg Roll In A Bowl

Enjoy exploring the flavors of venison and elevate your culinary experience with these mouthwatering recipes.


For more information, visit the official website of Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.

Article based on content from Miss Allie’s Kitchen.