Saturday, April 28, 2007

Project Venison--An Update

I am pleased to report that my venison stew was outstanding. Why? Well, you would not, if your life depended on it, know that it was venison. I've already shared my Hannibal Lechter moments of carving up the right shoulder. I marinated the stew size meat in white vinegar, water and garlic. The vinegar draws the blood out--and it's the blood that can render this stuff "gamey". I poured off the liquid, and yesterday the meat just sat in the fridge.

Today, I elected to have yet a second process having found a recipe or two that called for soaking the meat in milk/yogurt. In case you wonder about that oddity, the acid in both helps tenderize the meat. Having no yogurt, I used some sour cream and milk.

After about 4 hours (none of this is scientific), I poured off the liquid. For xmas, my SIL gave me about 6 tins of pre-mixed spices with romantic sounding names. I used the Mexican spice mix and mixed it with flour. I dredged the meat in the spiced flour and then browned it in a cast iron pan. I then added beef broth, covered it and put it in the oven until I could get back and assemble the balance of the ingredients.

Balance of ingredients: celery, carrots and onions and garlic--sauted in a large enamel pot. I added the potatoes and then poured onto it the braised venison. Back into the oven (covered of course) for the potatoes and stuff to cook. At the end, I added a can of peas, and I made dumplings (from Bisquick).

I served it with shaved Parmgeano Reggiano and a 1998 St Emillion Bordeaux. It was exquisite in every sense of the word (not to brag).

I have this great respect for cooking. When you look at the basics of cooking, it is all about survival. It is about eeking out every last nutrient from every bone and scrap. Where do you think stocks and broths come from? In early times, your survival depended on your skills of a hunter and gardener. The cook had to transform this work into food with extraordinary economy.

A cook is the ultimate alchemist.


russell120 said...

All that work!

Wouldn't it just be easier to raise sheep? At least when you went to chopping them up for a snack, you wouldn't be trying to make them taste like venison.

Leisa said...

I could then write a movie: Silence of the Lambs.

My neighbor has goats (pets). I have to take some pictures of the two newest additions. I don't look at them and view them as a food source.

If I had to kill what I ate, I would only eat fish and chicken. (Meaning neither of them any disrespect).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. I'm going to save this post.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, not even a scrap made it to the Woodshed. I must behave better so that I get an invitation to the Big House for one of these repasts.


joeywonderful said...

wonderful question, russell120?
Why would Leisa go to all that work to transform a wild beestie into an edible domestic?

I'm laughing here, as I'm a bit of a 'foodie' myself.

years ago, I undertook a smoked chicken recipe from 'Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook' (1976) - a 4 day project, the 1st three of which were marinatng the chicken at room temperature; followed by steaming the chicken and hanging it up to dry overnight (in my case, chicken was hoisted to twirl from the cottage rafters) and finished by smoking with aromatic spices (Szechwan peppercorns,star anise, dried tea leaves, etc)

Anyway, the wonderful finished product - reportedly an haute cuisine banquet dish in Szechwan - tasted like HAM! And, neighbours, to whom a sample was offered, refused to eat it, fearing death by food poisoning, and pointing out the likely climatic differences between Szechwan Province and a cottage on Lake Huron, Ontario during the hot days of July.

I'm not so ambitious these days about cooking projects. I tend more to simplicity and segue being that the wild leeks are harvestable now and I observed clusters of harvestable fiddleheads as I walked along the Grand River yesterday and, with trout season having opened yesterday, I'm hoping to outwit a trout or two over the next few weeks.

Again, Leisa, thanks for these wonderful posts.



Leisa said...

MarkM--there were plenty of leftovers. In fact you had an invitation, but I think that you preferred the smokin', drinkin' and cussin' activities of the woodshed!

Joey--Oh, you are so much more ambitious than I on the food front. The most elaborate chicken rendering I've ever done was doing Julia Child's devilled chicken--which I must say was worth the effort.

Now for those of you who like to grill and such here's a tip. Taking a common roasting hen and cut out the backbone. That way it will lay flat. You do need some sharp kitchen shears. If you do not have any, go get yourself some. It is one of the most important tools (in addition to excellent knives and pans....).

One of my favorite chicken/pork marinades is Yoshida's Gourmet sauce (wonderful for fresh tuna too--just do not marinate too long). I generally use 1/2 Yoshida and 1/2 orange, apricot, guava, pineapple juice. Any kind of sweet, acidic juice. Of course, you can add accoutrements such as garlic and lemon/orange zest and the like.