José Souto serves a genuine slab of juicy, tender venison steak with a delicious melting blue-cheese sauce that’s almost too easy to make. Feeds four, served with chips and vegetables.
Venison steak is primarily from the haunch muscles. The haunch can be broken down into three primary joints for cutting into venison steak — the topside, silverside and the thick flank. (Read more about which deer species offers the most delicious venison?)
The topside and silverside muscles are solid pieces of meat that, once trimmed of sinew, are tender and flavoursome. The thick flank has two muscles, one on top of the other, that need to be separated and, again, trimmed of sinew.
One of these is an oval piece of meat, the other is cylindrical in shape and has a very small thin piece of sinew running through it. On larger animals, this is taken out. However, on smaller animals, it can be left in as it will cook out.
All these cuts will provide juicy, tender steaks that need only minimal cooking and will have far more flavour than the loin. I think the haunch has the meatier flavour and texture that you would expect from a good steak.
With red, sika and fallow deer, these muscle joints will be quite large and you will be able to cut inch-thick flat steaks. With roe, muntjac and Chinese water deer, the haunch joints are smaller, so cannot be cut in the same way.
I would advocate cutting the haunch joints from these deer into pavés. The word pavé is French and describes the pavement or cobbles of the streets. These are small, square slabs of stone, so a pavé in butchery terms is a thick square of meat. These cuts are cooked quickly, by pan-frying, grilling or even barbecuing.
They are seared and then allowed to tick over until they reach the required level of cooking. However, be warned — well-done venison steaks or pavés will be dry, livery in flavour and very unappetising.
In my view, venison steak, pavés and loins should not be cooked any more than medium and they will be at their best at medium-rare. Once cooked, there are many things that can be paired with the venison. Here is a rich blue-cheese melt that can be made in advance and chilled. Then, once the venison is cooked, drop it on top, so that it melts with the heat of the meat.
Venison steak, or pavé, with a blue-cheese melt
Prep time: 20 to 30 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 100ml double cream
- 20g Gorgonzola piccante cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 4 x 150g venison haunch steaks or pavé
- Put the cream in a saucepan and bring slowly to simmer, then add the cheese in small lumps. Stir in the cheese as it is added.
- Once the cheese has melted, check the seasoning, then pour the mix into a small bowl and allow it to cool. Place in the fridge until needed.
- Season the steaks, add a little oil to a pan and pan-fry the meat to the required level.
- Remove from the pan and allow to rest for three or four minutes in a warm part of the kitchen.
- Take the blue-cheese melt out of the fridge.
- Either slice the steak or leave it whole. Put the meat on to a serving plate and add a spoonful of cheese melt on top. The plate can be placed under a grill for a few seconds to allow the mix to melt more quickly. Then serve with chips and seasonal green vegetables.