The Best Tool for Venison Is …

Among all the important things to have in your kitchen, this is the be-all, end-all for any venison lover.

With almost 25 years of marriage under my belt I can attest that from the early days with little of what George Carlin called “stuff” to today’s “we have too much stuff!” clutter, my wife and I have gone through a bunch of knives. Kitchen knives, of course. We’re not into ceremonial swords or that circus trick where I’m on a spinning wheel and she’s trying to pop balloons.

Kitchen knives, found in the drawer and that big hunk of wood on the counter with slits in it for specific knives. One, of course, is the rogue knife. But that’s fine. Over the years, some knives were OK, some were stinkers and a few are those “where’s that knife?” special knives that everyone seems to have one or two of in a drawer.

Chef Works Ken Onion Rain 6-inch chef's knife.

Chef Works Ken Onion Rain 6-inch chef’s knife.

One of mine is a metal-handled steak knife with a serrated blade. Another is a cheap plastic-handled utility knife with finer serrations. Neither are razor-sharp by any means but they cut through meat, veggies and fruit without a problem for me. Most of the other knives in our drawer suck and probably should be thrown away.

(Speaking of throwing away knives, isn’t that kind of a bit weird? I mean, you put a knife in the garbage can, it goes in the truck, probably sticks through the bag into someone else’s rotted fruit or a poopy diaper, and I guess eventually rusts in the landfill. It’s always seemed weird to me to throw them away. But they don’t just magically disappear, either.)

A good knife in the hands of an experienced chef is a sight to behold. Two years ago we filmed at the home of Stacy Harris in Alabama and watching her flip her chef’s knife here and there was enjoyable. Ditto for Scott Leysath, who I’ve known for 15 years. Last October in Ohio while hunting with Heartland Wildlife Institute, our chef for the week, Ty Hartman, was skillfully adept with his chef’s knife.

Leysath travels frequently and carries his knives with him. He has, in the past, favored the Shun Ken Onion 8-inch chef’s knife, a beautifully designed tool that fits the hand well. Onion is now working with Chef Works and has a new knife, the Rain series, which comes in 13 models including 10-, 8-, 6- and 4-inch chef’s knives.

I’d love to have a Shun or Chef’s Works Onion knife but two things prevent it: first, I don’t cook enough to really need one and second, if I paid $200 for one kitchen knife my wife would use it to skin me. If you really love to cook, though, or enjoy the finer things, 200 bones for a good knife wouldn’t be a problem. They’ll last for years (don’t put them in the dishwasher, Leysath says!) and handle your venison, meats, veggies and other chores with ease and proper care.

Here’s a good, short video on how to correctly hold and use a chef’s knife:

One thing about cutting vegetables, chopping herbs or carving meat is you need a good cutting board, preferably one made from wood. I’ve used everything from glass to acrylic to wood to hard rubber. Wood is durable (don’t stick it in the dishwasher) and if you watch any cooking shows, from Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet to today’s hottest Food Network star, they’re likely cutting on wood. Get a good board, like this one that’s big and tough, and it’ll be a great addition.

I have a couple of inexpensive chef’s knives in 8- and 4-inch sizes. They work well, help me cut through bigger pieces of meat or dice veggies, and probably need a little more attention from me than my old serrated steak and utility knives. It’s good to have options, though. Always good to have options.

Here’s a great summer recipe from Stacy Harris for a Venison Loin with Arugula salad, which is nice for summer with the vinaigrette dressing. If you don’t have any venison just use a beef loin and remember this recipe when deer season gets here.

Check out Stacy’s other recipes, tips and ideas here, here and here, or this super DVD

Venison Loin with Arugula is easy to prepare and delicious with a light vinaigrette dressing. (Photo: Stacy Harris,

Venison Loin with Arugula is easy to prepare and delicious with a light vinaigrette dressing. (Photo: Stacy Harris,

Venison Loin with Arugula

  • 1 venison loin
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, for brushing onto loin
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • Easy vinaigrette
  • 8 oz. baby arugula
  • 1 4 oz. chunk good Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Brush olive oil onto loin then salt and pepper the loin. Brown loin on all sides in a super hot cast iron skillet. Place loin in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and let rest.
  3. Make Easy Vinaigrette (Go here)
  4. Remove avocados from the shell and remove pits. Cut avocados into 1-inch slices.
  5. With a vegetable peeler, slice Parmesan cheese in long, thin pieces.
  6. Toss arugula in large bowl with enough dressing to moisten. Divide among 4 plates. Place venison loin, avocados, and cheese among each plate. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

For more great recipes, photos and ideas from Stacy, visit her website at

DDHSeptDon’t miss another tasty recipe of the month where you’ll find ideas on smoked meat, venison jerky, and so much more. Subscribe to Deer & Deer Hunting for monthly venison recipes, the best big buck stories, complete gear reviews, and exclusive whitetail deer hunting tips. Click here to subscribe.