Chicken fried venison is tenderized, breaded, and fried golden brown before being smothered in a luxurious country gravy.
I had one package of venison steak left in my freezer and I needed to find a meal worthy of it. This was it. Comforting, creamy, and tender, this meal hit all of the right buttons.
Chicken Fried Venison
There is nothing "chicken" about chicken fried venison. The name simply reflects that the venison cutlet is battered and fried similar to how fried chicken is prepared. Although perfectly tender on it's own, venison as a whole is not as tender as chicken meat, so it is pounded flat to make it fork tender, as well as ensure it is thin for quick frying.
What Gravy for Chicken Fried Venison
This recipe is prepared with white country gravy, also known as cream gravy. However, when serving chicken fried steak many people enjoy using brown gravy instead. Both options are great and can be swapped as desired. If you are looking for the most traditional option, then I recommend country gravy.
How to Make Country Gravy
Country gravy is simple to prepare and requires minimal ingredients: flour, butter, milk, salt, and pepper. The salt and pepper are particularly important because this mildly flavored gravy will taste bland if not seasoned properly.
Start the gravy in a small saucepan set over medium low heat and melt the butter, sprinkling the flour on top, and whisking together to form a roux. Continue to stir to prevent scorching the flour, and cook for two minutes to cook out any raw flour taste.
Dribble in the milk, a few splashes at a time, allowing the liquid to fully incorporate before adding additional splashes. Adding milk slowly prevents lumps from forming. As the gravy thins out more milk can be added at a time. Continue until all milk has been added.
Finish the gravy by bringing it to a simmer and cooking until it thickens. At this time season it generously with salt and pepper. It is important to be tasting the gravy as you season it to ensure the flavor comes out. You want it to taste salted, but not salty.
Tip: If the gravy is too thin, just simmer it longer, it will thicken as it simmers. If the gravy is too thick, dribble a small amount of milk in to thin it back out.
Best Cut of Venison for Chicken Fried Venison
You are probably tempted to use venison loin in this recipe if you have some on hand. Don't do it, it would be a waste of a really tender cut. Since the meat is being tenderized and flattened with a meat mallet I recommend using a slightly tougher steak cut from the hindquarter. This would be a good use for a shoulder steak as well.
How to bread venison
Once your venison is tenderized prepare a dredging station by mixing all of your wet ingredients in one dish, and your dry breading ingredients in another. Season the venison with salt and pepper then dredge in the dry mixture, shaking off any excess. Second, you dredge it in the wet mixture letting the excess drip off and return it for one last dredging through the dry mixture.
This first dry dredging creates a surface for the wet mixture to more easily cling to. The second dredging through the wet mixture allows for a thicker amount of batter to coat the meat in the final dredge. This is what ensures you will have an even, crispy breading.
Tips for Making this Recipe
- Using baking powder and baking soda creates an airier breading on the venison. However, it can be omitted if you don't have it on hand.
- There is no need to deep fry the meat. Just a ½ cup of oil in a 9" skillet is sufficient to pan fry the breading until golden and delicious.
- It is best to use a heavy-bottomed skillet, such as cast iron, to limit temperature fluctuations.
- Use a digital thermometer to ensure the oil is at the right temperature before you fry. If you don't have one, try sprinkling some flour into the oil, if it sizzles you are ready to go.
- Frying at too high of a temperature will cause the breading to cook faster than the meat, which again, is why a thermometer is best.
- If you don't have buttermilk, regular milk can be substituted.
- To make your own buttermilk add 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice to the 1 ½ cups of milk and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
Chicken Fried Venison
- 2 pounds venison steak (steak from the hind quarter or shoulder recommended)
- ½ cup cooking oil
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt (plus more for seasoning venison)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (plus more for seasoning venison)
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 cups milk
- fresh ground pepper (to taste)
- salt (to taste)
- Cut venison steaks into individual portions, approximately ¼ - ⅓ pound each. Pound flat and tenderize with a meat mallet.
- Season venison with salt and pepper.
- Set up your dredging station by mixing the wet batter ingredients (buttermilk and eggs) together in a dish, and combine all of the remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and seasonings) in a separate dish.
- Dredge the venison in the dry mixture, and shake off any excess. Then dredge in the wet mixture, letting any excess drain off. Finally, return the venison to the dry mixture for a final coating. Set breaded venison on a wire rack while breading the remainder and preparing to fry.
- Add cooking oil to a 9" skillet and bring oil to 325 degrees. Add breaded venison, working in batches as needed, and fry for 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Add more oil for each batch if needed.
- Remove fried venison from oil and let drain on a clean wire rack.
- The gravy can be prepared while the venison cooks, or you can keep the venison warm in a 225 degree oven while you prepare the gravy separately.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium low heat. Sprinkle flour into the melted butter and whisk for 2 minutes while the raw flour taste cooks out.
- Slowly dribble milk into the saucepan a little at a time, while continuing to stir. Ensure the milk is fully incorporated before adding more, to prevent lumps. As the gravy thins out more milk can be added at once. Continue until all milk has been added.
- Bring the gravy to a simmer to thicken and add salt and pepper. As the gravy gets to your desired consistency it is important to be tasting for salt. Too little salt and the gravy tastes bland. Add more salt until it tastes salted, but not salty.
- Serve gravy topped over chicken fried venison.
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