Venison Recipes for Gourmet Environmentalists
Venison Stock or Demi-Glace
The French base their fabulous sauces on stocks, which are meat broths made from bones. These stocks can be reduced, or boiled down, to produce a more intense flavor. This style of cooking takes time and effort, but the results are worth it.
To make your own venison stock-based sauces, you will need to ask the butcher who does your deer processing to save the bones for you. If the butcher will cut the bones into pieces and freeze them in eight- pound packages, this recipe will be pretty simple to follow.
8 pounds meaty venison bones
1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 can tomato paste
4 tablespoons blackberry preserves
1 bottle hearty red wine (such as Zinfandel)
4 bay leaves
10 juniper berries (optional)
Preheat oven to 475. Place venison bones, onion and carrots in a large roasting pan. Roast in the oven, turning and scraping every 15 minutes, until the onions and carrots are browned, about 45 minutes. (Be forewarned that your oven will probably smoke at this temperature unless it has been cleaned recently.) Smear the tomato paste and preserves onto some of the bones and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. When the bones are very brown, remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the contents of the roasting pan to a stockpot. Pour the wine into the roasting pan and scrape up the browned pieces. Then pour it over the bone mixture. Add water to cover. Add the bay leaves and juniper berries. Bring to a boil and simmer for one and a half to two hours, or until the bones are clean, skimming occasionally. Pour through a strainer and discard the bones. Use immediately, or store frozen. (For convenient storage, pour stock into an ice cube tray and then put the cubes in a plastic container and use as needed.)
Yield: About 2 quarts
To make venison demi-glace: Continue boiling one quart of the stock until it is reduced to about one and a half cups, or until it coats a spoon. Freeze in ice cube trays for convenient portions.
Roasted Venison Haunch with Mushrooms and Demi-Glace
This extremely rich French-style roasting sauce is made without flour. The demi-glace takes the place of thickeners and broth in the sauce. The roast will come out juicier if you use the caul fat (see note).
1 venison haunch roast
1 ancho chile, seeded and chopped into strips
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, trimmed and rinsed
Pork caul fat (optional)
1 stick butter
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon thyme
3 cups red wine
3/4 cup demi-glace
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Debone the haunch and remove as much of the sinew and silverskin as possible. Toss the mushrooms and chile strips together. Cut the mushrooms into slices if they are too large. Roll the meat back up with the mushrooms and chile strips in the middle and tie with butcher's string or wrap with caul fat.
Combine half of the butter and red wine vinegar in a saucepan over low heat until the butter melts. Add the thyme. Roast the haunch in a roasting pan in a 450-degree oven. Baste with butter mixture every ten minutes. After 30 minutes, add the shallots to the pan. Roast the venison until it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees for medium rare or 150 degrees for medium. Remove the roast from the pan and allow to rest for ten minutes. Slip the peel off the shallots and crush into a paste. Add the red wine to the roasting pan and scrape up all the browned bits. Pour the wine into a saucepan with the shallot paste. Add the demi-glace, bring to a boil and reduce for ten minutes or until it coats a spoon. Slice the venison. When ready to serve, add the remaining half-stick of butter a little at a time to finish the sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour the sauce on the plate and arrange the venison slices over it with the mushroom mixture on top. Serve with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes or risotto.
Note: Caul fat is a lacy sheet of fat taken from the abdomen of a pig. Use it to wrap up a roast instead of tying it with string. As the roast cooks, the fat melts slowly, basting the meat as it holds it together. You can find pork caul fat frozen at Hong Kong Food Market (11205 Bellaire Boulevard), but beware, it is mislabeled "calk fat." Or you can order it from a butcher shop.
Bryan Bracewell's Venison Sausage
(from Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook by Robb Walsh)
When deer hunters get their venison processed in the old German towns of the Texas Hill Country, some meat markets still offer to turn the shoulder and other tough cuts into rehwurst (venison sausage) instead of the usual venison "hamburger."
You can also make this sausage at home if you have some venison in your freezer. This recipe comes from Bryan Bracewell, a third-generation barbecue pit boss and the head of the sausage-making operations at Elgin's legendary South Side Market.
5 pounds fatty pork butt
5 pounds venison shoulder, cut into pieces
1/2 cup black pepper, coarsely ground
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 pint pickled jalapeños with juice
For testing the seasonings:
1 teaspoon oil
For stuffing the sausage:
Medium hog casings (see note)
Grind the pork butt and venison together through a quarter-inch plate of a meat grinder (the chili plate). Add a little salt, pepper, pickled peppers and pepper juice in the top of the grinder as you go so that they become well incorporated in the meat. In a large bowl, knead the mixture with your hands until everything is well blended.
In a small skillet, heat the oil. Form a meatball-sized piece of the mixture into a small patty and fry. Taste for seasonings, and adjust to your taste.
Soak the hog casings in lukewarm water. Stuff the meat mixture into the hog casings with a sausage stuffer or a pastry bag and tie into four- to six-inch links. The sausage will keep for three to four days refrigerated and up to two months frozen.
Yield: Ten pounds
Note: Medium hog casings, also called sausage casings, are made from pork intestines and are preserved in salt and sold in a small plastic tub at most Texas butcher shops and many grocery stores, especially during deer-hunting season.
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