Maybe it was Bambi’s dad. I don’t know. I can’t say. I wasn’t there when the animal was shot. This is what I know, a good friend’s boyfriend brought fresh venison (fresh as in killed in December, not freshly butchered) down from the Upper Peninsula. Wait, I read some statistic somewhere that Americans are clueless on geography. Let me show you…
For the record, I’m in Chicago. No, I’m not going to show you Chicago on the map.
Given the opportunity to cook the venison for my friends was an honor. I had never cooked venison before. It was something I had to research and read up on. There are remarkably few sources for information on venison that I would consider trustworthy. I couldn’t even go to my ultimate crutch, Alton Brown, for assistance, since he has never done a venison episode.
Armed with a plausible recipe, and some information from the USDA on proper cooking temperatures (I am a stickler when I am in unfamiliar territory) I set to the task of turning the tenderloin into something tasty.
I decided to make a whole four course meal to celebrate the honor of cooking a huge slab of meat.
The first course was a simple sea scallop wrapped in bacon, seared and broiled with teriyaki sauce. This was served along with the evening’s signature cocktail, Jim Beam Black bourbon and hot apple cider. It was just a nibble, a bit to whet the appetite. I was nervous about these because I was working with an oven hotter than I am use to as I was cooking the venison at a recommended 500 degrees that would raise the internal temp to 165 within the requisite hour. I was also nervous because my normal move when cooking for people is to do volume and just having a scallop per person seemed a bit meager. I followed it up quickly with the next course.
I made a wilted spinach salad which is one of my favorite salads. Essentially fry up a mess of bacon, take the grease, stir in a bunch of mustard, a bit of sugar, vinegar, and a little extra oil, and whisk the hot liquid into a nice dressing to pour over spinach and green onion. Crumble the bacon on top with some hard boiled egg and mandarin oranges and you have yourself a bacony salad.
The venison with asparagus and roasted potatoes came next. I failed to get a picture of the plating, but one of my guests took a shot and I will hopefully get a copy to put in here. But I do have some pictures of the venison after I seared it.
The final course was desert, a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. The cake was supposed to be molten chocolate cake but I forgot to hit the button on the timer to start it and let it over cook a bit… so no melty chocolate goodness from the cake.
All the recipes I used for this meal will follow in a future post. None of this was overly difficult. The hardest part was coordinating the timing of everything and planning a menu that really wasn’t just a huge slab of meat on the plate with mashed potatoes which is what the standard ‘cook’ in me would want to do with any hunk of protein.
I really pushed myself on many levels here. Even on the clean up. All the dishes are done. Nothing is “soaking” in the sink.