What are the best side dishes for venison? Venison has an intensely gamey flavor, so spicy, aromatic sides go well. Winter root vegetables are perfect: sweet potato with cinnamon, minty carrots, and syrupy glazed turnips. Fruit sauces, like cranberries, with their sweetness and acidity, contrast nicely with venison’s leanness.
Whether you’re serving marinated venison steaks, an autumnal venison stew, or a roast haunch of venison, you’ll want to pair this festive meat with hearty sides that complement its unique, earthy flavor. Let’s look at the best side dishes for venison.
Our Favorite Venison Sides
Stewed Sweet Potato
Sweet potato adds a delightful honey taste to the umami flavor profile of venison. This recipe has warm spices and citrus reminiscent of mulled wine.
Peel two pounds of sweet potatoes and cut them into wedges. Layer the sweet potatoes in a heavy-based saucepan with salt, brown sugar, orange peel, and a cinnamon stick. Dot with butter. Continue to layer sweet potato and butter, ending with butter. Pour over ⅛ cup of orange juice or sherry.
Cover the saucepan tightly with a lid and heat gently, keeping the temperature very low. Cook until the sweet potato is tender and the butter and sugar are syrupy.
Pasta With Butter
We often consider pasta as the vehicle for a sauce, but with a plain buttery, cheesy topping, pasta makes a lovely side to complement a robust meaty dish. Think of this as grown-up mac and cheese.
Cook a pound of ribbon noodles in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, turn into a heated serving bowl, and top generously with butter and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir through pasta until coated. Serve hot and pass extra butter and cheese at the table.
Celeriac has the same herbaceousness as celery, with the creaminess of potato. These qualities make it a great accompaniment to venison’s heaviness and richness.
Simple mashed celeriac is buttery, fluffy, and delicious, soaking up the sauce that always accompanies venison.
Peel and dice your celeriac and cook it in boiling, salted water for 20-30 minutes. Once the vegetable is tender, mash with melted butter, a dash of cream, and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir through some freshly grated horseradish for a kick.
Glazed Baby Turnips
Turnips are a delightful winter vegetable with a strong peppery flavor that stands up to the uniqueness of venison.
Cook a pound of small baby turnips in boiling, salted water until just tender. Drain, leaving about a tablespoon of cooking water in the pan. Add two teaspoons of caster sugar and cook over low heat until dissolved. Stir in ¼ cup butter and cook gently until the sugar-butter mixture begins to brown. Keep shaking the pan so that the turnips are thoroughly coated.
Baked Mushrooms In Cream
Mushrooms and venison work wonderfully together, with the plain flavor of the mushroom acting as a support to the rich meat. This recipe adds a luxurious touch to a kitchen staple. Use any mushrooms at hand, brown, white, or portobello – wild mushrooms add a feeling of fall.
Start by preheating the oven to 450⁰F (220⁰C).
Trim a pound of mushrooms to level the stems with the caps. Arrange the caps, stem side down, in a well-buttered ovenproof dish. Brush the tops with plenty of melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Generously sprinkle mushrooms with snipped chives or finely chopped shallots. Pour ¼ cup of cream over the mushrooms.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the dish and top with three tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Bake for another five minutes.
Minted Ginger Carrots
Vegetables are an excellent way to balance the fullness of venison. These sweet yet spicy carrots are aromatic and fresh and can be served hot or cold.
Preheat your oven to a moderate 350⁰F (180⁰C).
Scrape and trim a pound of carrots, and place in a baking dish with ½ cup of orange juice, ¼ cup olive oil or butter, and a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. Season well. Bake for 45 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Serve sprinkled generously with freshly chopped mint.
Green Beans Paysanne
Fresh green beans add crunch and brightness to a venison dinner, while the bacon adds some much-needed fat to lean meat.
Trim a pound of green beans and cook them for about 10 minutes in boiling, salted water. Take care to leave them crisp. Fry two diced rashers of bacon in a large pan. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon.
Add two tablespoons of butter to the pan and fry two finely diced onions until soft. Add two peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes. Return the beans and bacon to the pan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Season and serve hot.
Fennel, Pear, And Watercress Salad
This beautiful salad includes some fruit and peppery fennel, and watercress to help clear the palate as you eat the rich venison.
Chop a generous bunch of watercress, finely slice a head of fennel, and core and slice four ripe pears. Lay the ingredients in a flat dish.
For the dressing, combine ¼ cup red wine vinegar, a tablespoon of French mustard, a teaspoon of finely grated root ginger, a smidgen of crushed garlic, and salt and pepper. Beat in ½ cup salad oil and a tablespoon of walnut oil until the dressing thickens.
Pour dressing over salad and toss gently before serving.
Best Wine Pairings For Venison
Venison, like beef, lends itself to a medium to full-bodied red wine with dark fruit flavors to complement the gamy, wildness of the meat.
Choose a dry cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, or petit verdoh with fruit-forward blackberry, blueberry, and cherry notes. A merlot is perfect if you prefer a sweeter, more velvety mouthfeel. For those who like a spicier red, shiraz is your go-to.
White wines aren’t the ideal pairing for venison but can work if you’re serving a creamier venison dish, like stroganoff. Choose a bold chardonnay or sauvignon blanc to cut through the richness.
Beer drinkers will enjoy a Guinness or dark porter with venison.
Best Sauce Pairings For Venison
Venison can be pretty dry as it is very lean meat, so you need to serve it with a rich, bright sauce to complement the robust gamey flavor and bring freshness to the meal.
Cranberry sauce is excellent with venison, as it softens the intense meatiness and adds a festive touch. Although you get tasty ready-made cranberry sauce, it’s easy to make your own with fresh cranberries.
Combine three cups of cranberries, a cup of sugar, a cup of orange juice, and a cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.
Other berries also work well, such as red currants and blackberries. Use jam or jarred berries if you don’t have fresh ones. Use red wine instead of orange juice – but cook the sauce for longer to allow it to reduce and thicken.
Garlic sauce is also an excellent accompaniment for venison, as its strong flavor is spiky enough to taste over the gaminess. Cook a generous amount of crushed garlic in plenty of butter. Whisk in flour and then add cream and stir until thickened. Season with a hearty grinding of black pepper.
You can add mushrooms to the garlic sauce and peppercorns for added heat.