People often reject the idea of eating deer meat, claiming it has a strong or pungent flavor. But actually the taste is fairly mild, especially as prepared here: Ground venison is mixed with oregano, fennel seeds, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, and a little ground beef for fatty juiciness. It tastes like classic Italian sausage—just add sautéed peppers and onions and gooey melted provolone, and serve on a toasted hoagie roll.

What to buy: You can find ground venison meat at gourmet grocers or online.

This recipe was featured as part of our Game Meat Recipes for the Big Game.

  • Yield: 6 sandwiches
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 50 mins, plus at least 4 hrs marinating time

Ingredients (20)

For the sausage:

  • 1 3/4 pounds medium-ground venison meat
  • 8 ounces ground chuck (15 to 20 percent fat content)
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon toasted fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (from about 5 to 6 medium cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the sandwich:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill
  • 3 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 1/2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 9 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • 6 hoagie rolls


For the sausage:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands until evenly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the flavors meld, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

For the sandwich:

  1. When the sausage is done marinating, heat the measured oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes. Cover with a tightfitting lid to keep warm and set aside while you cook the sausage patties.
  2. Divide the venison sausage into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into a thin, rectangular patty slightly larger than the hoagie rolls; set aside.
  3. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium (about 350°F to 450°F). When the grill is ready, use tongs to rub the pan or grate with several layers of paper towels dipped in olive oil. Place the sausage patties on the grill, cover the grill, and cook the patties undisturbed (do not press down on them) until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the patties and divide the cheese among them. Cover the grill and continue cooking until the cheese is melted and the patties are just slightly pink in the center for medium (about 140°F to 145°F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes more. Remove to a clean plate and let rest in a warm place or tent loosely with foil. Meanwhile, toast the rolls.
  4. When the rolls are ready, place 1 patty on each roll, evenly divide the onion-pepper mixture over the patties, and serve.