Pan-fried Venison Tenderloin

There are two thin strips of meat that lie along the inside of the deer’s backbone; most people call it deer “tenderloin.” It is eaten rare. Start this dish the day before you plan to serve it.


  • 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs or 3 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram, and parsley)
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves per tenderloin, peeled
  • 1 venison tenderloin for every 2 or 3 people olive oil
  • dry red wine
  • bacon grease
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • unbleached (all-purpose) flour for dusting


Put some herbs and the garlic on a cutting board and chop together with a chef’s knife until the mixture is uniformly minced. Rub the mixture all over the meat.

Lightly coat the inside of a shallow nonreactive container (such as a glass baking dish) with olive oil, then put the meat in the dish. Dribble a thin stream of oil back and forth over the tenderloin, but do not coat it. Pour in about 2 inches of red wine or cover the meat with wine. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight. If the meat is not covered, turn the meat several times while it marinates.

The next day, remove the meat from the marinade and drain well. Lightly paint the inside of a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with bacon grease and place over high heat. Slice the meat into -inch-thick slices, season with salt and pepper to taste, and dust them lightly in flour, shaking off all excess flour. The pan should be very hot, but the bacon grease should not smoke. Add the steaks to the pan and cook over high heat for about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Do not overcook. Serve with twice-cooked potatoes.