One of my favorite cooking tools is a cast iron skillet. Most foods can be easily prepared in it—whether you’re baking, frying or sautéing. And the best part is that you don’t have to wash it, simply wipe it out with a towel and it is ready for the next meal. I also like a cast iron skillet because of how well it cooks over a campfire, bringing us back to the most elemental aspects of cooking—fire and meat.
Crispy fried venison cutlets are one of my favorite simple wild game preparations. It is a reminder that, when you are in the outdoors and your cooking equipment and ingredients are limited, wild game can be made delicious in a few simple steps with a skillet and an open fire. The style is a bit like an Austrian schnitzel, though richer with the venison flavor. The meat should be sliced thinly off of the backstrap, preferably one that has been aged well. Pounded thinly, with your skillet if you don’t have a meat mallet, then dipped in a combination of seasoned flour and breadcrumbs. From there is it dipped in very hot oil until it is a dark golden brown on both sides. A sprinkling of salt when they come out is crucial for helping them stay crispy on their way to the table.
Try some cutlets at your next campfire eating adventure. It will bring out the caveman cook in you.
Fried Venison Cutlets
This is a set of guidelines. Amounts will vary depending on the amount of venison you have.
• Aged venison backstrap, cut into thin slices and pounded until evenly thin
• Seasoned breadcrumbs
• Salt and pepper
• Vegetable oil
1. Sprinkle the cutlets with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, seasoning again with salt and pepper.
2. Pour 1 inch of vegetable oil into a medium-large skillet and heat over an open fire.
3. Brush the cutlets with a bit of oil on both sides and dip them into the flour mixture until covered. Set aside on a plate.
4. Test the temperature of the oil by adding a cutlet and seeing if the oil begins to bubble assertively. If it doesn't, remove the cutlet and let the oil become hotter. If it does, continue adding more cutlets. Turn them over halfway through cooking. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about five minutes total.
5. Remove to a plate covered in paper towel and sprinkle with a bit more salt to keep them crispy. Serve immediately with gravy or a favorite chutney.