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oh deer

Recipe: bacon-wrapped venison and garlic-herb butter

Last week it was unseasonably warm and sunny, so Kaweah spent a good bit of time on the deck as I worked inside. While I love spending time with my pup, she can really get underfoot when I’m shooting or cooking anything involving meat, or vegetables, or fruit, or cheese or peanut butter… Basically, anytime I work with food (which is all the time) she is my little shadow.


perfect weather for a kaweah



And I needed to get a lot done without constantly dodging the dog or worrying about tripping over her while carrying camera equipment, sharp knives, or fragile dishware. I was trying to get a jump on my work schedule which seemed to have blown up in the span of two days. That, and my folks arrived in Boulder last week. Even though I see them a lot more than I used to, it’s important to me to spend time with them. We just have to agree on things that we all enjoy because I loathe shopping (they are avid shoppers) and they don’t do the outdoor stuff that Jeremy and I like to do – especially anything in the cold.

picking them up at the bus station with roses for mom (because i’m a good chinese daughter!)

we took my folks to try some awesome korean barbecue at dae gee in westminster



One evening when I took rolled pistachio baklava to my neighbors, Ann went into the kitchen to retrieve a plate to return to me. She set a little package wrapped in butcher’s paper on top and told me Herb had returned from his hunting trip in the Midwest (he’s a bow hunter). It was venison. She asked if I’ve prepared venison before and I said only once – when I had no clue what I was doing and Google didn’t exist yet. I assured her that I would find a good recipe. The next day, I was chatting with Herb and Ann in the driveway when Herb rattled off a quick and simple recipe for the venison. It sounded amazing.

let’s start with the garlic-herb butter: butter, parsley, garlic

chop the parsley

grate the garlic



I’ve taken to grating garlic lately when I want to avoid bites of raw garlic in my food. Actually, I’m fine with bites of raw garlic, but it can upset Jeremy’s stomach. Grating the garlic also seems to infuse more garlicky goodness in whatever I’m cooking. Compound butter is a mixture of butter and whatever you like. So don’t feel as if you’re bound to parsley and garlic if you would prefer garlic and tarragon, or dill, or rosemary, or chives. See what I mean? Butter goes with practically anything.

smooshed butter, chopped parsley, grated garlic

mix together

place on wax paper and shape into a log

wrap it up and refrigerate



Alternatively, you can get fancy and pipe the butter onto some wax paper while it is still soft (and it needs to be pretty soft). Pop them into the refrigerator to firm up, then you can freeze the fancy butters in a sealed container to use for entertaining at a later date. When the butter log is cold, use a warm knife (run it under hot water, then wipe it dry) to slice it up as needed.

piped butter

slicing the garlic-herb compound butter



Is the butter necessary? I say yes. Venison is incredibly lean meat and so it benefits from some added fat and flavor. That’s why Herb told me to wrap it in bacon before grilling it, to let the bacon fat baste the venison as it cooked. And because venison is lean, it’s best to serve it rare to medium rare otherwise the meat can get tough and dry very quickly. Also, don’t be shy about seasoning the steaks with salt and pepper. Really.

pepper, salt, garlic-herb butter, bacon, venison

slice the steaks to 3/4- or 1-inch thickness

season with salt and pepper on both sides



The cut of venison I received had “small roast or steak” written on the paper. I don’t actually know what part it is, but I’m guessing it is the loin or a similar cut. These “steaks” were more like medallions, but that was fine. They were gorgeous. Because the steaks were small, we grilled them on high heat for 5 minutes, total. If they were larger, I probably would have given them more time.

wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick

before the grill

after grilling



Once we got the steaks off the grill, I slapped some of the garlic-herb compound butter on top of each one (the roses are a little large for the tiny steaks, so I let half melt before putting the rest on the potatoes). The venison was perfectly medium rare and it tasted so good! People complain that venison is gamey, but we detected very little of that gaminess in the flavor. The meat was tender and perfectly complemented by the smokey bacon and garlicky, grassy butter. Now, if you don’t have access to venison, don’t fret. I imagine this would work well on beef tenderloin too.

serve hot off the grill

…and savor every bite



Bacon-Wrapped Venison Steaks with Garlic-Herb Compound Butter
[print recipe]
from my neighbor, Herb

4 venison steaks, cut to 3/4-inch or 1-inch thickness (or 8 small ones like I used)
salt to season
pepper to season
4-8 slices of bacon (enough bacon to wrap each steak)
4-8 pats of garlic herb compound butter

garlic-herb compound butter
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsps parsley, chopped

Make the garlic-herb compound butter: Mix the butter, garlic, and parsley together in a bowl. Scrape the butter out onto a sheet of wax paper. Wrapping the wax paper around the butter, roll it into the shape of a log (diameter is up to you). Twist the ends tight. Refrigerate. When the butter is firm, remove from the refrigerator. Warm a knife under hot water. Dry the knife and cut the butter into slices. Makes 1/2 cup of garlic-herb compound butter.

Make the venison steaks: Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper (don’t be stingy with the salt). Wrap a strip of bacon (or more or less depending on steak size) around the circumference of each steak and secure the ends with a toothpick. Grill on high heat for 2-4 minutes a side (depending on the steak size). You want to shoot for rare to medium rare (internal temperature of 130-140°F) to avoid making this tender, lean meat become dry and tough. When the steaks are done, remove from heat and serve with a pat of the garlic-herb compound butter on top. Serves 4.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

seared steak and chanterelle mushrooms on polenta miso pork belly stack pan-seared scallops rack of lamb

6 nibbles at “oh deer”

  1. Lene Svingel says:

    Your blog is such a delight to behold :-) Amazing recipes, fresh, skilled – and for someone living in Denmark, quite exotic.
    Absolutely out of this world pictures! They make me want to move to Crested Butte this very instant. Is there a ‘Adopt a Dane’-programmet in Boulder… I think there should be

  2. Carole@rusticartistry.com says:

    Venison loin with brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes sounds like the perfect meal for me. Luckily I have venison in my freezer (am also a bow hunter) so I can pull off this meal.

  3. christine says:

    Sage is amazing with venison too-maybe I’ll try that in the butter!

  4. marla says:

    I need this. Wondering what would happen if I shoot a deer in my yard.

  5. Samantha says:

    I love venison, I could eat what you’ve cooked right now – soo beautiful! Thanks for the pics and for sharing your yummy food. and about kaweah (quietly enjoying the sun), your life, your parents, etcetc…thanks!

  6. jenyu says:

    Lene – :) ha ha!! Well, if there is an adopt-a-dane program, you should sign up! It’s very nice out here! xo

    Carole – ooooh, you are so lucky and awesome! <3

    christine – sounds like a nice combo. If I ever get my hands on more, I’ll have to try that.

    marla – if it’s out of season, you could be fined ;)

    Samantha – thank you! xo

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