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Red Deer

All About Red Deer


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Farm-raised red deer should not be confused with the wild white-tail Virginia deer that roams wild in Quebec. Imported from New Zealand some fifteen years ago, red deer farming is limited to Eastern Canada.

Red deer is most often served with small fruits and wild berries, peppercorns and juniper berries as well as red wine marinades.

Cooking Methods

Roasted red deer

Tender cuts of red deer are cooked in an open roasting pan in a medium-hot oven 140°C (275°F) without any added liquid. Medium-tender eye of round or cross-ribs roasts are cooked covered, with a little liquid added prior to cooking.

For tender cuts of meat:

1Pre-heat oven and place meat in an open roasting pan.

2Coat meat with a little oil.

3Cook until desired degree of doneness.

For medium-tender cuts:

1First, sear the meat on all sides for 8 to 10 minutes prior to roasting.

2Remove meat from pan and set aside.

3Deglaze pan with broth, about 250 ml (1 cup), over medium heat.

4Bring to a boil and cook one minute.

5Return meat to pan, cover and cook in the oven until desired degree of doneness.

6Midway through cooking, insert meat thermometer into the fleshiest part of the meat.

Grilled Red Deer: The meat is cooked rapidly over medium heat.

1On the stovetop, in the oven, or on the barbecue, sear the meat over high heat, then lower heat to medium.

2Cook for 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the steak, turning only once using tongs, not a fork, to avoid piercing the meat.

Sautéed or Stir-fried Red Deer: Strips of meat are cooked rapidly over medium heat in a lightly-oiled frying pan or wok.

1Season the meat with herbs.

2In a lightly oiled frying pan or wok, brown meat over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Braised red deer: The meat is cooked slowly over low heat in a covered casserole with liquid and vegetables.

1Pre-heat oven to 140°C (275°F).

2Coat the meat with flour and dry mustard.

3Brown the meat in a small amount of canola oil.

4Pour enough liquid to cover the roast halfway.

5Add aromatic vegetables, onions, leeks, carrots and a bouquet garni.

6Cover and cook for approximately 3 hours.

Stewed red deer or red deer cooked in sauce: Cubes of meat are cooked slowly in a covered casserole with a large amount of liquid and aromatic vegetables.

1Coat cubes of meat with seasoned flour.

2Brown cubes in a small quantity of oil.

3Add aromatic vegetables and spices such as pepper, thyme, bay leaf and juniper berry.

4Add enough liquid to cover the meat completely.

5Cover and simmer over medium heat, 60°C (140°F) for about 90 minutes.

Tips and advice

  • Red deer can be substituted for beef in most recipes, as long as temperature and cooking time are reduced. It’s usually available from your Metro butcher in the same cuts as beef, such as leg, loin, steak, stewing cubes, lean ground meat and more.
  • A steak cut from red deer leg is just as tender as beef filet mignon, but unlike beef, it does not need to be tenderized prior to cooking.
  • Red deer medallions are thinner than beef medallions, so cooking is easier to control.
  • The filet mignon of red deer is smaller and much thinner than a beef filet mignon, so it cooks in half the time and is best served rare or pink.
  • Boneless loin is ideal to serve when there are more people at the table. It can be cooked whole or cut into steaks, and its regular shape ensures even cooking. A whole loin generally weighs about 1.5 kilograms, and can easily serve eight people. It’s also remarkably tender. Allow 10 to 12 minutes per pound of cooking time for rare or medium pink meat.
  • Stewing cubes are ideal for recipes requiring slow cooking either on the stovetop or in the oven, slow-cooker or even a tagine. Cooking time is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes at 170°C (325°F).
  • Brochette cubes can be seasoned and barbecued or broiled in the oven for a few minutes.
  • Like a trussed roast of beef, a red deer roast is first seared in fat, preferably duck fat, and then cooked in the oven. Allow 10 to 12 minutes per pound of meat for rare or pink. Let stand loosely covered in foil for about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Expert tip

The meat should be served rare or pink for maximum tenderness and flavour.

How to know when cooked red deer is done

When cooking red deer, check for these internal temperatures to make sure your meat has reached the desired degree of doneness.

Rare meatMedium pink meatWell-done meat
Cook to: 60˚C (140˚F)Cook to: 63˚C (145˚F)Cook to: 70˚C (160˚F)

Nutritional value

Red deer meat has five times less fat than beef. It is low in calories and a good source of protein, and is also rich in iron and vitamin B.


Fresh red deer meat can only be refrigerated for a day or two. Different cuts can be wrapped individually and stored in the freezer for three to six months. Always defrost in the refrigerator allowing 4 to 6 hours per kilo (2 to 3 hours per pound).