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Robb Recommends: This Venison Is Great for Steak Lovers Looking to Eat a Little Healthier

First Light is known for it's grass-fed Wagyu, but its lean and tender venison from New Zealand is worth trying too.

Roasted venison rack Lee Warren/First Light Farms

A steak obsessive has expanded to a different red meat. First Light, the New Zealand company that prides itself on its unique offering of grass-fed Wagyu beef—and an exclusive invite-only steak club—has launched a new online store in the US. And along with the chance to now buy whole ribeye loins and massive full plate Wagyu short rib, the company has introduced a line of grass-fed venison too. And it’s pretty great.

I recently received a five-bone rack of venison from the shop to give it a try myself. Being that it’s First Light, the meat is antibiotic and hormone-free and the venison is raised humanely in New Zealand. Upon unwrapping the roast, it’s immediately evident how lean it is—less fat than skinless chicken, in fact. So there was a part of me that was worried about overcooking it and making it tough. Admittedly, I’m not someone who has cooked venison at home, so I didn’t want to get too complicated in my preparation. I also wanted to taste the quality of the meat, so I opted for a straightforward recipe that wouldn’t mask its natural flavor.

I started by heating butter and oil in a cast iron pan and then after trimming the silver skin on the rack placed the rack bone-side-up in the pan to get a hard sear. As it sizzled away, I added smashed garlic cloves and fresh rosemary to the party, then flipped the meat and began to baste the rack with the herb-infused brown butter. I sunk my digital thermometer into the center of the roast, set it for 130 degrees and slid the pan into a 350-degree oven. Throughout its time roasting, I’d pop the door open to offer a little more basting. Once that rested, I sliced it into chops, then finished each one with fleur de sel and a drizzle of brown butter from the pan.

When the moment of truth arrived and my steak knife met the venison, it struck me how little resistance it found. This rack is very lean, but despite that, the meat was beautifully tender. As for flavor, the gameyness of the meat is subtle, with a ferrous accent on the finish. So those red meat lovers out there looking for a leaner but still delicious alternative, First Light’s venison may be for you.

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