Venison Risotto

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Yes, you can make risotto with red meat. This venison risotto is a riff of a beef risotto dish from northern Italy. It’s essentially a venison rice porridge, loose and rich. Serve it in a bowl.

A bowl of venison risotto ready to eat.

There are countless ways to make venison rice: Cajun jambalaya springs to mind, and you could modify Lowcountry chicken bog to use slow-cooked, shredded venison. But venison risotto, is, to me, the best way to go about it.

It’s rich, loaded with flavor, warming on a winter day, yet light enough for a summer supper, pretty to look at, and reasonably easy to make.

Many of the elements in this venison risotto mimic the beginnings of a classic Italian-American red sauce: tomato, onions, garlic, red wine, herbs. But instead of a sauce + pasta, it’s all in one pot with rice.

You can use any kind and cut of venison here: Deer, elk, antelope, moose, etc. Any red meat works, and this dish is traditionally made with beef. I bet lamb would be nice, too. As for cuts, I prefer leftover braised, chopped or shredded meat.

That means venison rice is a great weeknight dinner after a Sunday dinner of, say, braised venison shoulder, or Polish pot roast, or even venison barbacoa. In this case, I used leftover shank meat from my Austrian braised shanks recipe.

If you don’t have leftover venison to add, you can use a tender cut like backstrap, diced small, then added at the end so it doesn’t overcook. Another option is a bit of ground venison at the beginning, browned with the onions — this option makes the venison risotto very close to a typical red sauce.

The other important ingredient in venison risotto is venison stock. You really ought to have some. It’s easy to make if you are a hunter, and it pressure cans beautifully. If you don’t have any, use low-sodium beef stock.

There’s one additional, optional ingredient that really makes this venison rice: fat. The first time I made this, I made it with nilgai and nilgai fat; these animals are bovids, so their fat isn’t waxy like deer. The best fat I ever used for this dish was smoked beef tallow. OMG. So good.

Use a good fat, even if it’s just nice butter like Kerrygold or Plugra or somesuch. Beef tallow would be awesome, as would duck fat or homemade lard. If you’re not into that, use good olive oil.

I use California black sage in my venison risotto, but any fresh sage is fine. Black sage is amazing, and if you live in central California you can find it in the countryside.

Close up of a bowl of venison rice, with a glass of wine.

Serving and Storing

Venison rice is best served as soon as it’s made because it will congeal and set up hard as it cools. I normally serve it solo, or with a simple green salad.

You also could serve venison risotto as a course in a large game meal, in which case I’d follow it with something classic, like venison au poivre or venison with Cumberland sauce or steak Diane.

If you have leftovers, you can revive the rice by reheating with a little more stock, or you can stir in a beaten egg or two, roll into patties or balls, coat in flour or breadcrumbs and fry. Those make a killer lunch.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

A bowl of venison risotto ready to eat.
5 from 10 votes

Venison Risotto

This is a versatile red meat-and-tomato based risotto that works with any sort of red meat. See notes below for meat options, as there are a bunch.
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course, Rice
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons butter, beef tallow or olive oil
  • 1 cup minced white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped or shredded braised venison (see below for options)
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 1 quart venison or beef stock
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat the butter or beef tallow in a medium pot over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the onion and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and rice and saute another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the chopped or shredded braised meat, add a little salt and then the tomato paste. Stir this well to combine and let it cook a minute.
  • Add the sage and red wine. It will spatter. Stir constantly until the wine cooks almost away, then add 1 cup of the stock. Stir this for about 30 seconds, then drop the heat to medium and let it cook, stirring occasionally.
  • When the liquid has mostly cooked away, add another cup of stock and stir that for 30 seconds, then let it cook down again, stirring occasionally, Repeat this process until the rice is tender. You will need all four cups, and possibly more if the rice is old. Use water in that case. You want the rice to be tender but not mushy.
  • Stir in the grated cheese and black pepper, and another tablespoon of butter or fat if you want. Serve at once.

Notes

I prefer to use leftover braised meat for this risotto, but you have options if that’s not available to you. 
  • You can cut some clean, tender venison like backstrap or sinew-free hind leg meat into small dice and add this along with the last cup of stock when you are cooking the rice. 
  • You can add 1/2 pound of ground venison in the beginning, with the rice. Cook this until the meat has nicely browned. The end result will be a bit different from this recipe, but still very good. 

Nutrition

Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 742mg | Potassium: 902mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 289IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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4 Comments

  1. This is a great dish. I used up some venison roast from the other night. it certainly tested mg patience (which I am learning is required in cooking)

    thanks, Hank, for taking my venison cooking to a while different level!!

  2. Great recipe. Perfect for a rainy Monday night. I had leftover uncooked venison that I cut thin against the grain and then chopped fine and added a few whole cherry tomatoes and fresh chopped parsley for taste and color. Served with an Argentine Malbec. Excellent recipe. Thanks Hank!!

  3. If I pressure cook the risotto (blame it on the kids & my limited attention span), should we add the venison before we crank up the pressure or afterwards?

    1. Jack: Add it before if it’s something like shoulder or shank or neck. If diced backstrap or something similar, at the end.