Who doesn't love a good steak night? We all know most people's favorite cuts of venison - backstraps and tenderloins. But there are lots of other good steaks hiding in the hind quarters! Eye of round is one of those cuts that gets forgotten about. It's kind of like a bonus steak and if you haven't been using it as a steak, hopefully this recipe will change your mind!
What is eye of round?
Eye of round comes from the hind quarter. It's a long, tubular muscle located between the top and bottom round roasts. Some people refer to this portion of the hind quarter as the ham, but if you separate the muscles you end up with multiple cuts of meat - top round, bottom round, sirloin, and eye of round. People often refer to the eye of round as the "hidden tenderloin" due to it's similarity in shape to the tenderloin. While it's not as tender as tenderloins, I highly suggest you try cooking it like a steak instead of leaving it as part of the round roast. You won't be disappointed!
What are the best cuts of venison?
Many people will tell you the tenderloins or the backstraps are the best cuts of venison. While I don't disagree, I think there are a lot of unsung heroes that people just aren't utilizing or they aren't sure if they'll be good. I can cook and eat a good tenderloin with the best of 'em but I take a lot of pride in being able to make other cuts of meat sing as well. Some of my favorite recipes using these "unsung heroes" are mole-rubbed eye of round, stout-braised shanks, and philly cheesesteak using sirloin roast.
What temperature should venison be cooked to?
Since venison is so lean, steaks should be cooked medium-rare to rare to keep them juicy. Cooking them to an internal temperature of 120°F and letting them rest for 10 minutes will give your steaks that beautiful red, juicy center. Whether you go with a sous vide cook or a more traditional cooking method, 120°F is the number you're looking for!
What is the benefit of sous vide cooking?
Sous vide cooking can take a lot of the guesswork out of cooking. You set the temperature of the water bath to the temperature you want your meat to be. Because the water never goes over that set temperature, your meat never overcooks. Another benefit of sous vide cooking is that it can help tenderize the meat. But, don't overdo the cooking time or your meat can become mushy. I like to add herbs to my sous vide bag because the meat really absorbs the flavor of the herbs when they're in tight quarters together.
How long can you sous vide venison?
For a small cut of meat like eye of round, it can be sous vide for 1-2 hours. Any longer than that and the meat can start to lose its quality and texture. Larger cuts of meat like roasts can be sous vide for longer, but I still wouldn't go over 6 hours for the same reasons. I've seen people sous vide venison for 24 hours and I just can't imagine that it would be good at that point. I once sous vide a smaller pronghorn top round roast for around 6 hours and the texture was very strange (grainy and mushy) - I wouldn't recommend it! Stick to the lower times and you'll be very happy with the results!
How to sear steak after sous vide:
Since the steak has already been cooked to the desired internal temperature, you don't want to leave it in the pan too long. Otherwise, it will overcook. Theoretically, you should have medium-rare meat from the outside all the way to the middle. I got a little carried away taking pictures and mine got cooked a bit more than I wanted it to. But if you do as I say and not as I do, you should be good to go!
After the meat is finished in the water bath, pull it out and open up the bag. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Removing excess liquid from the outside of the meat will help it brown faster. Re-season the meat if it looks like it lost its seasoning. While you're prepping the meat, get your pan ready. Start with a cast iron pan. Cast iron pans hold heat better than most other pans. This is ideal for searing because you can get a good amount of browning in very little time. Get the pan super hot over high heat. Add in a spoonful of lard and let it melt. Place the steak in the melted lard. Cook the steak on all sides for 30 seconds or less per side. Let it rest for 10 minutes and it will be ready to enjoy!
Sous Vide Venison Eye of Round
- 10 oz venison eye of round
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon lard
- Preheat sous vide machine to 120°F.
- Season steak all over with salt and pepper.
- Place steak in a vacuum bag. Place rosemary sprigs under and on top of meat.
- Seal bag with vacuum sealer.
- Place bag in preheated water bath and cook for 1 hour.
- When meat has about 5 minutes left in the water bath, preheat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Watch it carefully so it doesn't start smoking.
- Remove bag from water bath. Cut bag open with scissors and remove meat. Remove the rosemary sprigs and carefully pat the meat dry. Re-season with salt and pepper if it looks like it has lost the seasoning.
- Once pan is really hot, add lard and let melt. Immediately add the steak. Cook on all sides for approximately 30 seconds. You want the pan hot enough to brown the meat in a short amount of time without overcooking it.
- Since eye of round is round, sear it on at least 4 sides but be careful not to leave it in the pan too long or it will overcook.
- Remove from pan and let rest 10 minutes. Slice into ½" slices and serve.
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