holiday venison recipes (marx foods recipe challenge!)

This post was written as part of a recipe contest with Marx Foods!  I would very much appreciate your vote, which you can cast here through December 13, 2015. Thank you!

Braised venison ribs make a hearty fall meal. Try Cervana Venison from!

Note: Marx Foods, an online and gourmet food purveyor based out of Seattle, provided me with Cervana Venison by Silver Fern Farms from New Zealand in order to complete this challenge. Thanks to Marx Foods and Silver Fern Farms for the outstanding product!

I’ve been messing around with venison (deer meat) for the last week. Being from South Carolina, venison used to make an appearance on our dinner table every once in awhile because — well, it’s the South, and people hunt. I don’t come from a hunting family, but we all knew hunters, and each fall those huntin’ friends would deliver giant foil-wrapped slabs for us to share in their bounty. My dad used to make a great venison stew, and so when Marx Foods, an online and gourmet food store based out of Seattle (with whom I’ve worked with before here and here), contacted me and asked me to participate in their latest photography and recipe contest using Cervana venison, I was all ears/eyes/tummy. Yum.

Marx Foods gave me two cuts of venison to try. I’ll be honest — even though I have memories of venison stew, I haven’t ever actually cooked venison. Since I’m a Type-A stress ball when it comes to trying to cook new foods, that translated to a lot of worrying. I worried about this venison for days. I researched and thought and talked about this venison as if I were helping it apply for college. My family thought I’d lost my mind, mainly because they’d be sitting there, talking about Santa’s imminent arrival or cheese (we love cheese), and I’d blurt out, “But it’s too cold to grill venison!” I was not normal.


In the end, I settled on making some holiday venison recipes. My first recipe is a buttermilk-brined venison medallions with a tart cherry-cranberry relish and creamed horseradish kale, and the second are braised venison ribs in red wine with leeks, mushrooms and rustic carrots and served with a side of chestnut stuffing. Yeah, I mean it when I say it: Merry Meaty Christmas, y’all.


This post was written as part of a recipe contest with Marx Foods!  I would very much appreciate your vote, which you can cast here through December 13, 2015. Thank you!





The first dish I made was the pan-seared venison medallion steaks, which I brined in buttermilk the night before. Over Thanksgiving, I’d insisted that we depart from our usual deep-fried turkey because I just really wanted to roast a turkey, and I’d decided to brine our turkey in buttermilk after reading that the acidity in the buttermilk really helps to tenderize the meat. In keeping with my holiday theme, I thought that making a tart cherry and cranberry relish might complement the creamy tanginess of the venison after it had been soaking in buttermilk. Finally, to top my dish off, I made a creamed horseradish kale with fresh shiitake mushrooms. The fragrantly spicy, slightly bitter kale greens were a wonderful, decadent complement to the venison steaks.



With the venison ribs, although I knew that the venison ribs were probably best served rare or medium rare, the weather snapped here mid-week, and I found myself craving a stew. I toyed around with roasting the venison ribs in the oven, but I just couldn’t shake the idea that those long, spindly ribs would be a great way to flavor a meaty braise with lots of veggies. With fresh leeks and mushrooms from our CSA share and a half-bottle of leftover red wine from Thanksgiving, I just couldn’t resist. I braised that meaty rack on low heat for an entire afternoon. And guess what? IT WAS SO WORTH IT.

See? The meat was fall-apart tender and delightfully lean. Usually when I braise short ribs or other cuts of beef, I end up skimming a lot of fat off of the surface of the braising sauce while I’m cooking at a low and slow temperature. With venison, there was none of that business. All that resulted after 2 and a half hours of braising was fall-apart meat and well-seasoned, tender veggies.

To accompany the braised venison ribs, I made a sage and chestnut stuffing. We had some leftover Whole Foods stuffing cubes (again, from Thanksgiving), and I really wanted something rich to absorb some of that amazing sauce that cooked off of the venison. Mashed potatoes didn’t seem like enough of an occasion, and so chestnut stuffing drowning in butter and cream it was.


The most surprising result of all of this venison-themed cooking this week was how versatile and flavorful venison meat is. I used to think of venison the way that I think of most spectator sports — I know it exists and that there’s like, a whole culture around it, but I just never think of how I might participate in it. After cooking Cervana venison in two drastically different ways, I think I’m a convert. I like the leanness of the venison. I really liked that I could eat a venison steak or two ribs and not feel weighed down or sluggish. It’s a red meat still, but a decidedly lighter one.

Of course, I’m pretty sure that all that butter and cream that went into my chestnut stuffing (and the creamed horseradish kale, for that matter) pretty much negated any caloric savings you might have benefited from by eating venison. But it’s the holidays, and we’re not focusing on that right now. Right? RIGHT?


This post was written as part of a recipe contest with Marx Foods!  I would very much appreciate your vote, which you can cast here through December 13, 2015. Thank you!

braised venison ribs

Time3 hrs 25 mins
This holiday venison recipe is a hearty dish with mushrooms, leeks and carrots


  • 1 8- rib frenched rack of venison (preferably from Silver Fern Farms via Marx Foods)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 multi-colored carrots (regular carrots are fine, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks)
  • 4 leeks (chopped (mostly white and light green parts only))
  • 1 12- ounce box of button mushrooms (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Rinse venison rack well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub thoroughly with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Heat remaining tablespoon of oil over high heat in a Dutch oven or other ovenproof pot until shimmering. Sprinkle flour onto both sides of the venison rack. Sear meat on both sides until browned, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set on a plate to cool slightly.
  • Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pot Add carrots, leeks and mushrooms and saute until vegetables are softened, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add broth, tomato paste, red wine, rosemary and parsley and bring to a boil. Continue cooking the sauce over high heat until reduced in half.
  • Add balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Nestle venison rack into sauce and place in oven. Cook for 2 to 2.5 hours until the meat falls away easily from the bone. Serve with vegetables and sauce on the side.


chestnut stuffing
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This decadent chestnut stuffing (based on [url href=”″ target=”_blank”]this one[/url]) is a must-have for holiday feasting
  • 6 cups dry stuffing cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 6 ounces chopped roasted chestnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 2.5-3 quart baking dish thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Sauce celery ribs, apples and onions in the skillet for about 3-4 minutes until just slightly softened. Add sage and stir for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, vegetables, half and half, chicken broth, chestnuts and parsley. Stir thoroughly to coat the bread cubes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the eggs and stir again to combine.
  4. Pour stuffing mixture into the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes until the top is crispy and golden.


buttermilk brined venison steaks

Time12 hrs 10 mins
Servings4 -6
These steaks are very easy to prepare — just bathe them in a buttermilk brine the night before! (Recipe inspiration here)


  • 6-8 venison medallions
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat water in a small saucepan over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, find a nonreactive (plastic) container large enough to hold the venison, plus a little liquid.
  • Dissolve the kosher salt and sugar into the hot water. Remove from heat and let the water cool. Add buttermilk, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme and sage and stir thoroughly.
  • Add the venison to the container you’ve picked. Carefully pour brine over the venison, allowing the venison to be completely covered by the brine. Cover the container tightly and refrigerator for several hours but no longer than overnight.
  • At least 1/2 an hour before cooking the venison, remove the venison from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Leave the venison out and allow it to come to room temperature.
  • When ready to cook, coat the venison medallions in olive oil and season with ground black pepper (don’t salt at this point — remember you’ve just brined your venison overnight in a salt solution).
  • Heat a cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the venison about 3-4 minutes per side until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the middle of the meat measures 145 degrees. Let rest at least 5-10 minutes tented loosely with foil, then slice and serve.


tart cherry and cranberry relish

Time25 mins
Servings3 cups
Try this variation on cranberry relish for your next Thanksgiving or Christmas feast — it pairs well with poultry and red meat!



  • Heat water in a small saucepan over high heat until just simmering. Add sugar and let water come to a boil until fully dissolved.
  • Add cherries and cranberries. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes until mixture is thick and jammy.


creamed horseradish kale with fresh shiitake mushrooms

Time35 mins
This creamed kale with fresh shiitake mushrooms is a knockout twist on Southern creamed veggies. Try it for your next holiday meal!


  • 1 bunch fresh kale (cleaned, cut from the stems and roughly chopped (approximately 8-10 ounces))
  • 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms (cleaned and chopped finely)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (or fresh, if available)


  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kale and saute until the kale is wilted but still bright green. Remove from skillet and set aside. Put skillet back on the stove.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter Add the shiitake mushrooms and saute for 4-5 minutes until the shiitakes have released some of their liquid. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the top of the mushroom and garlic mixture and saute for 1-2 minutes until a thick paste forms. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil, then lower heat and stir thoroughly until a rich sauce forms. Add horseradish, salt and pepper. Fold in kale and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

This post was written as part of a recipe contest with Marx Foods!  I would very much appreciate your vote, which you can cast here through December 13, 2015. Thank you!


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About me

I’m Ann, a mom / wife / lawyer / certified culinary enthusiast. I share recipes, travel guides and home life tips while living overseas. Currently based in São Paulo, Brazil.

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