Having a friend who hunts is a wonderful thing. Just last week I was gifted a couple of beautiful wild venison tenderloins.
image courtesy of venisonworld.com
While it is hard to keep the thought of eating Santa’s reindeer out of mind this close to Christmas, it’s an exercise that’s well worth it. Preparing the meat was simple. If “like cures like” in homeopathy, why shouldn’t “like” ingredients exalt each other? Deer live in the forest and probably graze on all things woodland: wild apples, even pine needles, juniper, and bark if things get tough. So I created a marinade of forest flavors that worked beautifully with the venison, which included pine needles to tenderize the meat and a little crushed juniper berry, a touch of garlic, salt, pepper, oil, and apple cider syrup for caramelization. Place all into a baggie and rub it into the meat. Seal and let this rest overnight in the refrigerator.
The following day, be sure to pick out the pine needles and any large pieces of juniper (it’s powerful stuff, so do not use too much!). Pat the tenderloin dry and salt and pepper lightly. While I got great results on a char grill, my hunter friend swears by hearth cookery, and if you have the equipment to do so, I recommend it. Primal, yet warming and relaxing.
Cook venison rare, let it rest before slicing. Then serve with rosemary roasted potatoes and mushrooms, topping with any available jus. Add a side of orange and green vegetables or salad greens for a festive and seasonal repast.
If you have no source of wild game, you can still enjoy the big flavor of venison by stopping by Hussey’s General Store in Windsor, ME. They have a large selection of cuts available from a local fallow deer herd.
Be sure to choose a night that Santa is not trying to get down the chimney before committing to this fireside meal. I think it’s safe to say that singeing Santa’s knickers would get you on the naughty list in a big hurry!
Season’s Greetings from Laura Cabot and the staff of Laura Cabot Catering
Laura Cabot is an MF&L columnist and blogger, a French trained chef with a long career as a chef/restaurant owner, and president of Laura Cabot Catering in Waldoboro.