Monday, February 6, 2012

Keeping it real at the homestead

Living in a rural place has many benefits. It was a choice we made to mostly appease my desire to live a simple life of growing food, raising animals, and on occasion freezing my ass off up in a tree stand. My dear wife was less motivated by the lure of the country, and has reminded me many times of her desire to live in closer proximity to the cultural side of existence. I think we have at certain times swapped stances on this divide, me missing opportunities to cook in high end restaurants, and feed people who truly know how to eat. Her comfort has grown in a sense of community she is developing in our small rural community, and our shared sense that we are really doing a good thing in raising our kids in a safe, and educational atmosphere. An atmosphere where I hope they can learn to feed themselves from the earth, and forage for the rest in a future that is filled with uncertainty.

That being said, I really take great joy in bringing home freshly killed game to feed and nurture my family. it is a thrill for me.

The pictures above are of a young 180 pound buck I shot in November, the back straps prepared for dinner, and the finished meal. The meal itself was sublime, and a worthy meal to give thanks to the animal that provided it's flesh to feed my family. Next time you find yourself with a venison back strap, or want to substitute a beef tenderloin, I heartily recommend this dish. Cheers!

Bacon Wrapped Venison Back Strap with Lingonberry Glace

(serves 8 or more)

1 venison back strap (or beef tenderloin) peeled and cleaned
1 # really good bacon (not thick sliced)
2 cups frozen (or fresh) lingonberries
2 cups Syrah
2 cups beef or venison demi-glace
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Technique: Make sure your venison loin is very clean.  Wrap with bacon tucking edge under the strips. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, combine the berries, demi-glace, and wine. Cook at a low simmer until the sauce is reduced to a sec (20% or so of original volume). Whisk often. The berries should dissolve, but you can run this sauce through a sieve at the end if you like. Roast the venison in a hot oven until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Set on a side board to rest for 15 minutes before carving into medallions. Serve with sauce.

Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

(serves 8 or more)

2 cups Arborio rice
2 cups raw pumpkin (or winter squash) in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Peccorino cheese
10 sage leaves (fine chiffinade)
1/4 cup shallots (fine mince)
at least 8 cups chicken or vegetables stock
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Technique: Heat a very heavy bottom sauce pan that is big enough to hold 8 cups. Add the raw rice and stir in the pan to toast. Add the shallot and white wine and start stirring with a heavy wooden spoon. Add stock slowly by the cup and stir it in, always scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. After the third or 4th cup, add the pumpkin cubes. Keep doing this until the rice becomes tender, but not mushy, it should still have a bite to it. Add sage, cream, and butter and stir in. Season with salt and pepper. Right before service, fold in the cheese and serve immediately. 

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