A well-cooked cut of venison is a beautiful thing, but because of the nature of the meat and its source, storing it can be difficult.
After all, you can get upwards of 60 pounds of meat from a single deer. No family is that big, so knowing how to cook and store it is inevitable.
And when you’re cooking that much meat, knowing how to use it effectively is also inevitable, which is why we need to know how to reheat venison that has already been cooked.
Luckily, there’s a lot of effective methods to reheat venison and just as many ways to store all that delicious meat for months at a time.
Read on to find out how.
How Do I Reheat Venison (from Frozen)?
When you’re reheating venison, there are three main methods to choose between. You can reheat it using your oven, in a pan on the stove, or sous vide. Each method has its upsides and downsides, so choose wisely.
Reheating Venison in the Oven
Reheating venison using your oven is possibly the simplest and most consistent method, and uses tools that everyone has in their home.
Bear in mind, when reheating a piece of venison in the oven, you have to keep it in there for a significant amount of time in order for the heat to penetrate deep enough into the meat. If not, you risk the meat not being heated through.
- Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
- Allow the venison to breathe at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.
- Put the venison on a foiled tray and place in the oven.
- Cook for at least 30 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is around 155 degrees.
- Remember, the meat continues to cook once you remove it from the oven, so leave for 5 minutes before serving.
Reheating Your Venison in a Pan
Reheating your venison with a skillet on the stove is generally considered the quick and dirty route, but as with all methods of reheating meat, you still need to make sure that you cook it for long enough that the heat penetrates all the way through the meat.
This can mean that the meat ends up chewy and tough because you’re essentially cooking it a second time. Despite this, if done correctly, when using this method you can end up with some incredible results.
When reheating your venison in a pan, the method is incredibly similar to when you cooked it the first time.
- Bring the stove to a high heat.
- Allow the venison to breathe at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.
- Add a small amount of butter or olive oil to the pan just before you add the venison.
- If your meal requires seasoning, do this before putting it in the pan.
- Sear both sides of the meat for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- To keep the meat moist, after turning, you can brush the top side of the meat with butter, a process known as ‘barding’.
- Allow the venison to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Reheating Venison in a Sous Vide
If you’ve never heard the term sous vide before, don’t worry. It’s a French term and generally stays in professional kitchens, but the method is slowly spreading. This is because it’s actually the single best way to reheat any meat, hands down.
If you’re serious about cooking and reheating a lot of meals, it might be worth considering buying a sous vide machine.
The reason is simple. Sous vide literally means under vacuum. The method involves a pot of water, the food being reheated in a vacuum bag, and the sous vide system controlling the temperature.
This gives you absolute control of the temperature to the degree, meaning you cannot overcook the meat, cause it to dry out or otherwise ruin the cut.
To reheat your venison using sous vide is simple.
- Once everything is ready, set the temperature to around 55 degrees.
- Place the vacuum-bagged venison into the water, remembering to clip it to the side of the pot.
- Feel free to add seasoning to the bag before putting it into the water, but try and avoid sauces.
- Cook for around an hour.
- A couple of minutes before you remove the venison from the water bath put a pan on high heat with a small amount of butter or oil inside.
- As soon as the venison is removed from the water bath, sear both sides for a short time.
- Bear in mind that the meat has already been cooked, so be sure to sear for less time than you generally would. You’ll know it’s done because the crust on your meat will look like it did when cooked, and it will once again smell divine.
- Once cooked and seared, leave to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Reheating Venison in the Microwave
Unlike a lot of other cuts of meat, a microwave is not recommended when reheating or cooking venison.
The reason is simple. The way a microwave functions doesn’t cook the meat through, meaning that your cut of venison will come out of the microwave incredibly tough and unappetizing.
Whilst there are methods of cooking venison that can use a microwave, they take literal hours, in which case you might as well use another method. We wholeheartedly recommend never reheating venison in your microwave.
How Do I Know if My Venison Is Reheating Properly?
Whichever method you choose, there’s a simple marker that your meat is reheated properly.
You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees, which can be easily measured with a food thermometer.
If you don’t have a food thermometer, there’s a method you can use that works as a basic rule-of-thumb test.
It’s called the hand test.
It’s easy. Push your pointer finger into the fleshy area just under your thumb. That’s what raw meat should feel like.
- Middle finger – thumb is medium rare.
- Ring finger – thumb is medium.
- Pink – thumb is well done.
Remember, you’re trying to avoid cooking venison past medium even when reheating, otherwise, the meat gets too tough.
What’s the Best Way to Store Venison?
As we’ve just mentioned, how you decide to store venison depends on how long you’re planning on keeping it for. Here’s what you need to know.
Storing for One Week or Less
If you’re storing venison for one week or less, there’s generally no need to use the freezer. Most cuts of venison will last 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
Wrap the meat well, removing as much air from the packaging as you can, then store in the coldest section possible.
Storing for One Month or Less
Start with a large sheet of laminated freezer paper. Wrap the cut in it, folding the paper securely over itself.
Flip the package over. Push down on it and smooth it outwards to remove as much air from the inside as possible.
Fold the paper over again, and repeat the flipping and smoothing process at least three times.
Once you have your meat packaged, tape the edges securely and store it in the freezer.
Storing Venison for Long Durations
Now that you know how to reheat venison, it’s important to learn how to store it.
Storing venison is simple, once you understand the methods. It all depends on how much you’re storing, and how long you’re storing it for.
Storing for Six Months to One Year
There are two ways to effectively store venison for the long term, both of which rely on removing all the air from the package.
The first method is to use a vacuum sealer to remove all the air from the bags you plan to store the meat in. Follow the instructions on your vacuum sealer and store the meat immediately in the freezer.
The second method is for those of us who don’t have the luxury of a vacuum sealer.
If this is the case, fill the bag to the brim with water, and as you seal the bag squeeze it gently to force water out of the gap. Done correctly, this ensures that there is almost no air inside the bag, which will keep the venison unspoiled for longer and minimizes freezer burn.
Once sealed, store the water-packaged venison straight into the freezer.
Whether using a vacuum sealing system or the water freezing method, when storing meat long term in this way, it’s best to write the date of preparation on the bags, so you can’t make a mistake in the future.
How to Defrost Your Venison After Freezing It
When defrosting venison, you should place it in the refrigerator, in the original wrapping you froze it in.
Defrosting venison at room temperature is not recommended, for health and safety reasons.
When defrosting your venison, a large cut or joint of meat needs around 3 to 5 hours in the refrigerator per pound of meat. As a rule of thumb, you can just pop it on the scales and multiply by 4.
For venison steaks, an inch-thick cut of meat requires around 12 hours in the refrigerator, and you can easily adjust this time based on thickness.
I’ve Defrosted Too Much. Can I Refreeze Venison?
No. Never refreeze your venison. Once it’s been defrosted, you have to use it there and then. You cannot refreeze it or put it in the refrigerator.
My Venison Still Tastes Gamey, What Can I Do?
A lot of the gamey taste of venison comes from the field care and butchering of the meat.
When preparing your cut of venison, check to make sure that all visible fat has been removed. Venison fat isn’t as palatable as other animal fats and should be removed before cooking.
If there is any remaining silverskin on the cut, remove that also.
Sauces and marinades can also help complement or mask that gamey flavor.
Failing that, venison loses the gamey flavor a little over time, so you could always leave it in the refrigerator for another day or two, if safe to do so.