This is definitely a fall/winter dish. Venison. An interesting meat; dark, gamey, succulent… extraordinary. It pairs extremely well with other ‘dark’ ingredients. Ingredients such as red wine, juniper berry, grapes, dry our cherries, fruit chutneys, lingonberries, cranberries, chocolate, and so on.
The meat itself, similar to many game meats, is very lean, and has a tendency to become dry. It’s very important not to overcook. It also needs balancing flavors to counter the slightly gamey, or iron flavor. One technique is to not cook beyond medium. Another technique is to pair with a strongly seasoned rich sauce. Another technique, as noted in today’s entry, is to rub the loin first.
Espresso is, of course, a very strong flavor. Normally, it’s great in two applications: drinking, and flavoring desserts. Why desserts? Not only is it delicious, but it naturally cuts richness. It balances in an incredibly unique way. Venison is another great pair.
I have produced the following recipe in restaurants in New England as an addition to wine pairing menus with very good and positive feedback. If you like venison, this is one of the best ways to do it. For a sauce, I like a chocolate infused red wine demi-glace.
Espresso rubbed Venison loin
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 portions
2 lb venison loin, trimmed of all fat and silver skin
1/2 cup fresh ground espresso beans
cracked black pepper
2 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Heat an oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil the venison, and crust it with the espresso and black pepper. Heat a heavy bottom oven safe saute pan to high heat. Liberally salt the venison. Add a couple tablespoons oil to the saute pan and sear the venison, turning only when one side is light brown. When all sides are light brown, put the thyme and garlic in the pan and place entire pan in oven. Leave in oven for 10 minutes, or until rare/mid-rare. Remove from oven and return to stove top over medium high heat. Add butter and baste venison with the butter (in the hot pan, using a spoon, spoon the butter oven the venison as it cooks). After about 2 or 3 minutes venison should be medium. Let rest 5 minutes in warm area, slice and serve.
Again, venison should not be more than medium. Slice into 1/2 in slices.
I love to serve this with something like truffle celery root puree, root vegetable hash, runner bean ragout, hearty greens like swiss chard, carrots, dry fruit chutneys, sour cherries, lingonberry sauce, etc and of course, as mentioned, chocolate infused red wine demi-glace.
Serve with a full bodied ‘big’ red. Light weight fruity wines, like pinot, won’t work well.
This is not your average meal, but hey, if it was average, it wouldn’t be worth writing about.