Bighorn Sheep Steak with Sauteed Greens
By Jeff Benda
Prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Presentation is always an important part of cooking venison steak for me. This isn’t because I take photos of food for a living. The real motivation is that either myself or a client went to a lot of work to harvest a big game animal, so why not try and replicate that crispy brown sear from a coveted steakhouse experience?
I was blessed with the opportunity to be able to tag along and photograph one of the North Dakota Bighorn Sheep hunts during the last weekend in October 2022. Victoria Danzeisen of Manning, North Dakota got this 8-year-old bighorn that weighed in at 242 pounds. Brett Weidmann from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department measured the full-curl ram and gave the sheep a green score of 166 5/8”. The current record for a bighorn sheep harvested in North Dakota was taken by David Suda in 2020 and had a green score of 179.
Victoria wanted to take her sheep in to a taxidermist for a life-size mount, so I used the Outdoor Edge RazorCape to make a smooth cut on the sheep’s back, down the dorsal line, all the way to the base of the tail. Then I used the knife to make a cut on the backside of all four legs, starting at the knee joint and making my way down to the hoof. There is a distinctive white pattern on the back side of a bighorn sheep’s leg, so it’s very easy to follow. From there I moved the blade in between the dewclaws and made a cut at the joint, leaving the hoof attached to the hide. I then started skinning around each rear leg and made a de-joint cut at the knee. I appreciated the strength and durability of the RazorCape blades, allowing me to quickly and easily sever each joint.
I then removed each hind quarter from the hide, pulling those through. I was careful in being sure to keep the testicles attached to the hind quarter and keeping it with the meat for both sex identification and a new recipe I had in mind.
After skinning each hindquarter, I used my 3.5” RazorLite to remove them and transfer the meat on the bone to a ice-filled cooler to chill as quickly as possible. I planned to bring the bighorn sheep meat home, hang the hindquarters, and age them for two weeks before butchering and packaging it for Victoria.
I grabbed the RazorCape again and began the work of skinning out the front quarters, carefully making an incision up the armpit and pulling the legs through. Finally, it was time for the back of the head where I continued my incision up the dorsal line to 2 inches above the center of the ears. Then I continued skinning out the neck before making a clean cut with the blade to separate the head and cape from the rest of the carcass.
I was extremely impressed that I was able to complete the entire life-size mount caping process using just one of the RazorCape replaceable blades, but it was nice to have a few extra in my sheath in case I needed them.
Victoria was kind enough to gift me with some beautiful cuts from her bighorn sheep. I decided to create this steak dish to celebrate the beautiful bottom round that usually gets dissected for jerky. I love transforming this undervalued cut into a “wow factor” steak.
My quick and easy stovetop steak method requires three simple tools: a Jaccard meat tenderizer, a heavy skillet, and a meat thermometer. And while cook times may vary based on your preferred level of doneness and the thickness of your steak, the following method can be applied to any cut of steak.
I used a bighorn sheep bottom round for this dish, but you could use a venison loin (backstrap), top round, or eye of round. Check out my 15 Best Venison Steak Recipes to inspire you to save more venison steaks this hunting season.
- 1 pound Bighorn Sheep steak (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 bunch Swiss chard or kale
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the steak from the refrigerator, place it on a cutting board, and tenderize it using a Jaccard meat tenderizer. Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper on all sides. Remove the butter from the refrigerator to soften.
- About 10 minutes before cooking, position the oven rack in the center of the oven, then place a 12-inch cast iron skillet in the oven and heat to 500 degrees F.
- Wash and dry the Swiss chard or kale. Separate them from the stems, discard the stems, then roughly chop the leaves.
- Quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel and thinly slice the red onion.
- When the oven reaches 500 degrees F, remove the skillet and place it on a stovetop burner over high heat for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, Place the steak in the middle of the hot, dry skillet. Cook 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs and cook another 30 minutes, then put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip the steak and cook for about another 2 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F using an instant-read meat thermometer.
- Transfer the steak to a cutting board or plate, tent loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
- While the steak is resting, add the oil and garlic to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 30 seconds until softened.
- Add the chopped Swiss chard and red onion to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often for about 2 minutes, or until slightly wilted. Add 1/4 cup water (carefully so the liquid doesn’t splatter). Cook, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes, until the water has cooked off.
- Stir in the butter and juice of 2 lemon wedges. Do NOT use the entire lemon! Turn off the heat. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Find the lines of muscle (or grain) on the rested steak, then slice crosswise against the grain. Serve the sliced steak over the cooked greens. Enjoy!