Morel Sauce with Venison

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Chances are, if you find yourself with more than a few morel mushrooms, at some point you will wind up making a morel sauce. There are lots of variations on morel sauce, many with cream. This isn’t that. This is a morel sauce for steak, in this case venison.

Morel sauce with venison loin on a platter.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I do have another recipe for a mushroom sauce for steak, and I even did a video for that one, but this is different. A morel sauce, to me, needs to be finely minced because that spreads the morel flavor better than if you kept the mushrooms in large pieces.

Morels are, in my opinion, the best mushroom to pair with a red meat like venison, although porcini are pretty good, too. Morels just smell so… woodsy. That aroma, mixed with the dense richness of medium-rare venison, comes together to make the Cadillac of game dishes. I’d serve this to even the most jaded or discerning palate.

You can use fresh or dried morel mushrooms for the sauce, so you can make it all year long, not just in spring when morels are in season. And any species of morel mushroom will do.

Two morels in the woods.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Venison with morel sauce is simple, but not cheap. It’s a perfect date-night dish and is a great way to turn someone who might be squeamish about either venison or wild mushrooms.

I always use either the tenderloin or the backstrap of venison for this recipe; I find the leg steaks too tough for such a special dish. It also can be done with filet mignon or a ribeye if you cannot find venison, and hanger steak and even skirt would be nice here, too.

A morel sauce will work well alongside a perfectly cooked duck breast, too.

As for the morels, don’t skimp. Use even more than this recipe calls for if you have them. They cook down a lot and their flavor is really what makes this dish. It’s one of my favorite recipes for springtime!

If you are looking for morel mushroom side dish to make this a morel feast, try my recipe for morel risotto or morel mushroom tortellini.

Morel sauce with venison loin on a platter.
4.71 from 27 votes

Morel Sauce with Venison

Morel mushrooms and venison, bison, or beef are a marriage far more successful than most pairings between mushrooms and meat. This dish is simple, deep and delicious. But don’t skimp on the morels, or the quality of any ingredient: You will notice. You can sometimes find dried morels in supermarkets, or farmer's markets. You could also substitute shiitake mushrooms.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 pounds venison loin
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil

MOREL SAUCE

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup dried morels, soaked in water for several hours, or about 2 cups chopped fresh morels
  • 1 cup venison or beef stock or 1/4 cup demi-glace
  • 1/2 cup Port wine, or Madeira or Marsala or Amontillado sherry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, reduce the stock and the water you soaked the morels in over high heat until you are left with about 1/2 cup of liquid. Turn off the heat and set aside. Obviously skip this step if using fresh morels, and do not include the demi-glace, if using.
  • Take the venison out of the fridge and salt it liberally. Let it rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Chop the morels finely.
  • Heat a pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-high and place the fresh morels down on the pan to heat. They will release their water quickly. Let this simmer until the water is almost all gone, then add 3 tablespoons of butter and shallot. sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove and set aside. If you are using dried morels, you do not need to dry-cook them first.
  • Either wipe the pan down or use another one. Heat it over high heat for a minute or two and add the grapeseed oil. Heat this for 1 minute. Pat the venison dry with a paper towel and place it in the pan. Sear it for 3 to 4 minutes on one side, then flip. Let it cook through to your taste on the other side without flipping again. Look for about another 1 to 3 minutes, but I use the finger test for doneness. Remove meat from pan and set aside to rest.
  • OPTIONAL STEP: Roll the finished venison in morel powder or porcini powder as it rests, and grind some black pepper over it. Give it about 5 to 10 minutes, then slice into medallions.
  • Meanwhile, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and let it melt over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine to make a roux. Cook this for 2 minutes. Add the port wine and stir to combine. It will thicken immediately, and if it turns to a paste add the morel water-stock mix you reduced in step one. If it does not turn into a paste, let the port boil a minute, then add the stock or demi-glace. Add the morels.
  • Once the morels are heated through, lay the sauce down on the plates, then top with venison. Grind black pepper over all and serve at once.

Notes

You can double the amount of morels in this sauce and it will be even better. 

Nutrition

Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 224mg | Potassium: 897mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 350IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 9mg

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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29 Comments

  1. Thank you so very much, I finally love venison. This has become my go to show off recipe after a long week of mushroom foraging.

  2. Absolutely wonderful recipe with fresh morels and relatively easy to make for how good it is! Paired with steamed asparagus and boiled red potatoes with ramp butter.

  3. I did this tonight. With red wine instead of port, and avocado oil instead of grapeseed. Also I used Salt Lick dry rub instead of black pepper.

    But WOW! Such flavor. My non-game fan wife loved it.

    Pro tip – soak the backstraps in milk overnight to remove any “gamey” flavor. That also makes it easier to remove all the silverskin.

  4. This was hands down the best deer I have ever made. Everyone loved it, including the kids (and they are picky). Wife said that was the best of any steak she has ever had. Deer or otherwise. We will be doing it again for sure.

  5. I love this recipe! It combines two of my favorite wild foods, venison and morels, and does so using one of my favorite alcohols for cooking, port. I found this recipe easy enough to follow for a first timer, though it did help that I’ve made other sauces and reductions before as I needed to adjust the timing and “fill in some gaps” as I reduced the sauce down to thicken it. I find the directions for the updated version of this recipe in “Buck, Buck, Moose” clearer, and would recommend buying that book (for lots of reasons!). All in all, a wonderful treat paired with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus, or whatever your vegetables of choice.

  6. I loved this version of venison and morels here in northwest Montana both are plentiful and therefore staples in my family’s diet. This meal is essentially free.

  7. Thanks from Minnesota, Hank. What a wonderful recipe, and such a great way to celebrate a fresh deer taken over the weekend. Especially with friends and family who allow my obsession for the woods to be possible.

    These sort of recipes, the really good ones, not only justify my excursions (mushroom hunting, fishing, and hunting) but make everyone understand and revel at the wonders that are at our fingertips.

    Get off the couch, go outside and explore. It’s not always about the kill, the find, or the catch. Enjoy it further…what better than at a table filled with the ones closest to you.

    Hank, you get it brother!

  8. Love your venison, wild boar and salmon recipes!!!. I live in Bariloche , Patagonia and we have all of these down there. My father was a hunter, my children and I are fishermen. Saludos de Argentina

  9. I made this meal the other night and it was a HUGE hit! Used Ohio venison tenderloins and Virginia ramps and morels. I only write down recipes for the recipe box that are really a success and this one made the cut! Thanks, Hank!

  10. Yes, definitely wild rice. And a sauce I have made for duck breast is a reduction with shallots, dried plums, and Pinot! I had a bottle of Pedro Jimenez that was a gift, and I made a reduction some of it and shallots. It was incredible! The P.J. tastes (to me) like prunes, so after pricing another bottle I went with the dried plums. Just as good.
    I usually serve with wild rice and roasted pears with blue cheese and toasted pecans on arugula. My favorite dish. BTW, we only found 2 morels on Sunday, but they were tasty!

  11. Greg, The idea of duck breast with this sauce is right on the money! Add some wild rice with dried cherries in it and for God sakes drink a decent Pinot Noir with dinner! 😉

  12. Going to hunt for morels in the Kansas City area this afternoon. I think this sauce would be wonderful with rare/medium rare duck breast for an anniversary dinner next weekend.

  13. I made this a couple months ago but it didn’t look like yours. I ended up with a bit of a burnt grandma gravy taste. I must have gotten things too hot at the end. I think I’ll have to try again!

  14. Wow, this looks great and we have a friend with some venison we can use for this (probably can trade some of our blueberries). Of course, we need the morels (which are a favorite). What veg would you serve with this? Asparaugus? Fiddleheads?

    I recently discovered your blog and I am a big fan. We grow a lot of our food, cure meat and are getting deeper into charcuterie. We are getting closer to our food, if you know what I mean. It has been a good experience for our whole family. I look forward to reading more of the blog and making more of your recipes.

    Thanks!

  15. This recipe looks AMAZING. I’ve never come across morels either but it sounds like now’s the time to go hunting for them.

  16. Sadly, I hardly ever encounter morels in the woods. There used to be a saying “You find them near an elm when the oaks’ leaves are the size of a mouse’s ear” or something to that effect.

    We liked the sauce so much we made this several times (with shiitakes though) back when there were still backstraps in the icebox. /sheds a tear
    As you said, this sauce with a seared-to-perfection medallion would make a convert out of most ‘game-haters’. But, I fear most of them would have reservations about eating game that is not ‘fully cooked’.