The Best Way to Cook Deer Shoulder in the Oven

Cooking venison low and slow helps ensure it will be tender and savory.
Image Credit: Vladimir Mironov/iStock/GettyImages

Venison, even from farm-raised deer, is much leaner than conventional beef. This affects how you cook it, because fat is an insulator. The leaner, denser flesh of a deer will cook more quickly than a comparable piece of beef, and requires both a lower temperature and a shorter cooking time.

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To prepare a deer roast in the oven, you'll need to reduce the temperature by approximately 25 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid overcooking and toughening the venison. A deer shoulder is relatively fatty, for venison, but will also be tough unless it's slow-roasted for an extended period.

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Things You'll Need

  • Venison shoulder roast, approximately 3 to 4 pounds

  • Paper towels

  • Heavy skillet

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Other spices, herbs or seasonings, if desired

  • Pork fat, optional

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 rib of celery, sliced

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

  • Roasting pan with rack

  • Meat thermometer

  • Aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Wipe down your roast with paper towels to dry the surface and remove any stray bone fragments or other debris left by the butcher. If your deer was wild-caught, check it for shot damage as well.
  2. Heat a heavy skillet over a medium-high burner until it's hot.
  3. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and sear the roast on all sides, until it's well browned and savory smelling.
  4. Season the roast liberally with salt and pepper. If you wish to use additional spices, herbs or other seasonings, rub or sprinkle them on at this point.
  5. Cover the roast with thin slices of pork fat, if you wish, to protect it from drying out during the long cooking process.
  6. Fill the bottom of a heavy roasting pan with the onions, celery and carrots, a traditional flavoring mixture known by the French name "mirepoix."
  7. Put the rack into the roaster, jiggling it as necessary to make it fit over the vegetables.
  8. Place the roast on the rack and transfer the roasting pan to an oven preheated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Roast at this temperature until the shoulder shows an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit when tested with a thermometer. After resting, this will leave the roast rare to medium-rare inside.
  10. Remove the roast from your oven once it reaches the desired degree of doneness and cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
  11. Allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Warning

If your venison is wild-caught and you live in an area where trichinosis is a risk, always cook it to well done, or 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

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