Marinade for Steaks and Chops

“Now, I have to get up at 4 tomorrow morning, get dressed, have breakfast at 4:30, pick Pete and Harold up at 5 and be at Leroy’s by 5:30,” explained my father.  “We have to be on our stands by 6.”

My mother was a new bride determined to be the best wife in Hayward.  She sliced the breakfast bacon, got the percolator ready to go on the stove and made my Dad’s lunch  before setting the alarm clock and going to bed.  This was many years before at least one wife decided to sleep in on the opening day of deer hunting season while her husband cooked his own breakfast.
The alarm went off, Mom woke Dad and started breakfast while Dad clothed himself in long underwear, a wool jack shirt, three pairs of socks, wool breeches that laced above the ankles and tall leather boots that laced nearly to his knees.
After a strengthening breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee, he got out his pocket watch to see if he had time for another cup before picking up his fellow hunters.
“What!!” says he as he holds his watch up to his ear to see if it has stopped. “It’s midnight!”
So it’s off with the clothes and back in bed to snuggle with Mom after checking to make sure that the alarm is set for 4.
“I was just so nervous,” Mom would explain as Dad told the story.  “I wanted to be sure to do everything right.”
Dad would laugh and say that at least she got him up in plenty of time.
I don’t remember whether he got his buck that morning, but he shot a lot of deer over the years.  We ate a lot of venison when I was a kid.  Mom fried it, roasted it, canned it and made chili and stew with it.
The one thing she did not do was serve it rare or even medium rare.  Meat was well done in our house until I started cooking, and then most family members refused to eat my attempts at gourmet cuisine.  Maybe if I had had a good marinade like this one….

I found this recipe on the web and have used it many times since, both for venison and beef. This marinade seasons and tenderizes lean meat exquisitely. Once you try it, you will be using it often.


2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
1/3 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
Dash of allspice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 venison steaks or chops


Mince two large cloves of garlic and finely chop half a small onion. You should have about one-third cup of chopped onion. Combine the onion and garlic with the other marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk them together.

Put the steaks or chops in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over the meat. Seal the bag, making sure that the meat is well coated with the marinade. Marinate the meat for three to five hours in your refrigerator, turning it every hour or so. Take it out of the refrigerator a half hour before cooking to let it warm a bit.

You can grill or sauté the meat. Grill the meat over a hot charcoal or gas grill for two or three minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the meat and your preference. If you choose to sauté the meat, have your skillet very hot. Add a small amount of shortening and sear the meat in the pan on each side, again for two or three minutes. Venison should be served rare to medium rare.

NOTES: This marinade goes well with beef grill steaks or even round steak if you do not overcook it. If you don’t have any Dijon mustard, substitute a half teaspoon of dry mustard.

Dad’s Milk Gravy

When I say that my father was not much of a cook, my brother and sisters will accuse me of wild exaggeration.  As they always do, they would bring up the matter of the “prunes and greens” that Dad tried to get us to eat one evening when we were very young.  Our idea of good food then was hamburgers, hot dogs and what Mom made.  We liked donuts and cinnamon rolls too, no matter where they came from.

I think that they were beet greens, but they may have been spinach.  Whatever they were, they did not go with prunes.  My father must have agreed with us, as I do not remember his “laying down the law” about “eating what was set before you” and “thinking about the starving children in China.” I don’t remember what we ate that night, but I’m sure that it was something other than the tiny taste of plump prunes and soggy sweetish greenish stuff that we had to try.

Actually, my father could open a can with the best of men, slice bread and make coffee.  He could also peel and boil potatoes, chop vegetables and stir soups on schedule.

And he knew how to make milk gravy. I must have been ten or eleven years old, and I can still remember his coaching:

“Get the grease hot–not too hot, add the flour, salt and pepper.  Stir until it’s smooth and bubbling.  Let it bubble a minute, but don’t let it brown very much.  That’s good! Now add the milk and stir.  Don’t dribble it in!  Dump it all in at once.  Then stir and keep stirring.  When the gravy starts bubbling and gets smooth, turn the heat down and cook it for two or three minutes.  Turn off the heat and you’re done.  Now you know how to make milk gravy.”

It really is that easy.  And depending on the kind of shortening you use, you can make a gravy that goes great with chicken or pork chops for lunch or dinner or with fresh biscuits for what may well become your own famous breakfast biscuits and gravy.

Here’s the recipe for Dad’s milk gravy:


3 T grease
3 T flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 cups milk


If you are having fried or oven-fried chicken or pork chops, remove the meat when it is done and reduce the amount of fat in the pan to three tablespoons or if necessary, add some butter or shortening to bring the amount of fat up to three tablespoons.  Add the flour, salt and pepper to the pan and scrape any meat bits into the gravy as you cook it over moderate heat.  You can do the same if you are making biscuits and gravy to go with bacon or sausage.  Taste and adjust the seasoning and pour the gravy into a serving bowl or gravy boat.

Making milk gravy really is child’s play, and your family and guests will thank you.

NOTES:  If you save your bacon grease, you can make a flavorful gravy to go with almost any meal when boiled or mashed potatoes are on the menu. If you don’t have bacon grease, use butter or shortening.  If the gravy is thicker than you prefer, stir in more milk a tablespoon at a time until you achieve the consistency you want. You can substitute ordinary finely ground black pepper if you don’t have white pepper on hand, but you may see some black flecks in the gravy; it will taste fine.