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Seriously Tasty Venison Cheesesteaks
100% not authentic. 100% delicious. Check out the venison version of this beloved cheesy meatwhich.
Invest in a meat slicer – it’s worth the tenderness.
For this recipe, it’s imperative the meat is sliced thinly for two reasons. First, it helps the meat cook very quickly. But as a bonus, thinly shaving the venison also serves to offset any toughness. Toughness is generally measured by how much force we need to use to bite down on food – the thinner the piece of meat, the less work we need to do EVEN if that meat was tough to start with. So, thinly slicing meats is a GREAT way to offset toughness that can often be an issue with game meats like venison. I use and recommend this this slicer from LEM (but they have others starting at under $100!). It also comes in handy for other recipes like this French Dip and is fantastic for roast beef and sandwich-friendly slices of home-smoked turkey too.
The cut of venison you use is important.
The above is all true. Thinly slicing will help combat toughness. BUT, it’s not a magic cure-all. So for the best results on this quick-cook sandwich, I recommend using backstrap or top round muscles. Both these muscles are more tender than most others on the animal, but are also large enough to give you nicely sized slices instead of lots of little choppy pieces.
Sorry Philly, but browned meat is better than steamed meat.
I’m going to let you in on a little dirty secret of internet recipes. And it’s something I spot ALL the time. It starts when people google for a recipe they want to try, and get presented with a TON of different options. Generally, the more appealing the photo of the food, the more likely you are to choose THAT particular recipe over the others. So a lot of folks will cheat their photos via editing to look more crisp, more golden or more “done” than what you’ll actually end up with if you follow the recipe instructions. In this case – you may have clicked on this recipe because the meat is lovely and browned on the surface. And because you know that browning and searing on the meat tastes so delicious, it probably appealed to you even more. The good news is – in this case the browning is REAL!
The browning of meat (meat nerds call it the Maillard Reaction) also adds a ton of bonus flavor as new taste, smell and flavor compounds are formed. In short – browning meat is not just visual, it actually creates new flavors. BUT – it’s important to note that most traditional cheesesteaks are semi-steamed on the griddle, which makes them very soft to eat but does NOT allow any browning to occur. It’s also the reason many cheesesteaks may not look particularly appetizing in pictures, because the meat seems greyed, not browned. So, my version has more of a fajita-style sear for a bonus oomph of taste. So – don’t expect these to be melt in mouth steam-tender.
Use a skillet, griddle or flat top.
You have some flexibility on where and how to cook these cheesesteaks. The best results will come from a cast iron skillet or griddle, or a well seasoned-flat top. You can use this outdoors on top of a grill, or inside on your stove. The bigger the cooking surface, the easier it is to double the recipe and feed more folks at once.
The recipe calls for freezing the venison for 10-15 minutes to firm it up for slicing. Using a firmer piece of meat makes thinly slicing it MUCH easier. If you’re using previously frozen venison, just start slicing before it has completely defrosted, instead of re-freezing it.
Regarding the cheese: the recipe below calls for the slices to be laid on top of the filling, which melts them from the heat. If you want the steaks to appear as the photos, I tear the provolone into smaller pieces and quickly mix it with the filling so that it melts throughout, THEN scoop the whole thing into the buns.
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Seriously Tasty Venison Cheesesteaks
- 1 lb x fresh venison backstrap or top round
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 6 slices provolone cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 hoagie buns
- Place the venison into the freezer for 15-20 minutes to allow it to firm up for slicing, without freezing. After the meat is firm, use a meat/deli slicer to shave the meat into thin strips (about 1/16").
- Place a large skillet over high heat (or heat a griddle/flat top grill). Add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once hot, add the sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes until they have softened and are starting to brown on the edges. Add the peppers and cook a further 2 minutes.
- Push the peppers and onions to one side of your pan/grill, then add the remaining oil to the other side, keeping the heat on high. It's really important to have the pan smoking hot to sear the meat properly.
- Add the meat to the free side of the pan, spreading the pieces out and leaving them to sear in direct contact with the surface for a minute. Cook a further 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally so the meat can develop a sear. Remember to keep stirring the onions and peppers so they do not burn.
- Stir the peppers, onions and meat together in one mixture. Cook a further 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Split the mixture into two even piles roughly the length of the buns, then layer 2-3 slices of provolone cheese over each pile.
- Toast the buns until golden under a broiler or on the griddle if you have space.
- Use a spatula or burger flipper to scoop an entire pile into each bun, then serve immediately.
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