Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Venison Parmigiana

When I was a kid, I wasn't sure if I liked the idea of venison. I mean, we've all seen Bambi; we all know that venison was essentially Bambi's mother. But there are a lot of things to like about deer meat. High on the list is that it is low in fat. But this also presents a problem to cooks who want to eat healthy, but don't want to spend hours gnawing on a tough chunk of meat. One way around this is to get it as cube steak, which my stepfather does. Cube steak is essentially meat that has been beaten to tenderize it. Seeing as how this is the first step to making Chicken Parmigiana, I didn't think it was much of a leap to go with Venison Parmigiana.
What I like about this recipe is that it is almost designed to cater to tough meat: you first lightly brown the meat to seal in the tenderizing juices, and then you bake it in the oven with pasta sauce to create a yummy and juicy Italian classic. And to paraphrase Homer Simpson from a recent episode, you can "parm" pretty much anything.

Venison Parmigiana with pasta
Adapted from a recipe on

3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon oregano
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup bread crumbs or crushed crackers (I used whole wheat crackers)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 (4 ounce) cube steaks (I used venison but you can get beef cube steak at any grocery store)
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (I used some that we had just made a couple nights ago)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put a pan with olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Set up your "parmigianing" station: Mix flour, salt, pepper and oregano in one bowl; whisk eggs and water in another; and mix Parmesan, basil, oregano and bread crumbs or crackers in a third.
  • Dip steaks in the flour, then the egg wash and finally, the Parmesan mixture. Place in pan. Brown on each side, but don't try to cook through.
  • As the steaks are browning, line a pan with tinfoil (for easy clean-up) and spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom. Place browned steaks on top and cover with more foil. Put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes or until almost cooked through. (This time will change according to the thickness of your meat. Mine was pretty thin.)
  • When the steaks are almost done, cover with more sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella. Put uncovered in the oven for another five minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is heated through.
  • Serve with pasta and your favorite red wine.
Despite seemingly having many steps, this recipe is actually super quick. The whole thing took me about half an hour or so. Maybe some day I will share the fiance's secret to an amazing pasta sauce (he's been making his own since I met him). But for now, just enjoy these lovely pictures:

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