If this venison dish doesn’t make your tongue do back flips over your forehead, well, maybe you should seek medical help to find out if your appetite has been captured by aliens.
We ran across this great site – SeriousEats.com – while poking around for some new recipes and found Slow-Roasted Spice-Rubbed Venison Loin. J. Kenji López-Alt is Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats and sounds a bit like a mad scientist in the kitchen. Maybe not mad. Just experimental.
Lopez-Alt lives in San Francisco, which puts him in proximity of one of the most interesting food cities in the world. California has a fine worldwide diversity. So it’s no surprise he’s interested in wild game, too.
We’ve updated this story because Lopez-Alt is a finalist for The James Beard Foundation media awards in the “Food-Related Columns” category. His “The Food Lab” blog on Serious Eats is one of three in the prestigious JBF awards, which will be announced April 24.
Lopez-Alt said the loins from two deer he shot in northern Michigan a few seasons ago were to be part of their Christmas dinner, but apparently that meal was put on hold. They did enjoy the deer hearts, which he described as “extraordinarily delicious,” and recently had a chance to put a fork to the loins.
While updating this story I ran across a couple of other venison-related stories on Serious Eats: one for a slow-cooked venison neck in wine, which sounds fantastic, and this one about deer heart. Anyone who’s ever hunted out of state and flown with a cooler knows there’s a smidge of trepidation about whether the meat will arrive. When it does, heart and liver possibly included, it’s a relief.
“Cooking venison loin is not all that different from cooking beef loin, except that it is significantly leaner,” he wrote on Serious Eats. “Since fat transmits heat much slower than lean protein, in beef, it acts as an insulator. Thus the fattier the cut, the slower it cooks. Lean venison take only about two-thirds the time to cook than an equivalent-sized piece of beef.
“I debated cooking this sous-vide, but in the end decided to simply use my inverse-oven technique: start it out in a low oven until it comes to within a few degrees of your desired finished temperature, then slap it into a ripping-hot skillet to sear the outside. The result is perfectly evenly cooked meat.
“The spice rub gets some bitterness from coffee and a bit of heat from ancho chilis, but it’s totally optional—feel free so season with just salt and pepper and serve with a simple pan sauce or garlic-parsley butter.”
Lopez-Alt says this recipe also works with beef tenderloin, too. So if you don’t have a loin or roast in the freezer from last season, try a nice beef loin as a practice meal before putting some venison on the table.
If you’re interested in something a bit fancier, check out this super stuffed venison loin recipe from Stacy Harris. She’s the creator and guru for GameandGarden.com, which has some great tips, recipes and videos. Harris also is the author of this, this and this book in ShopDeerHunting.com along with a cool DVD you may find interesting.
Here’s a short video with Harris showing you how to easily butterfly a loin:
Stuffed Venison Loin
2 venison loins, butterflied
½ cup breadcrumbs
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, cheeses, olive oil, basil, and garlic.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butterfly the two loins.
3. Spread filling evenly over the loin. Roll up the loin and truss.
4. Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in smoking hot cast iron skillet. Brown loins on all sides. Place loins in 350-degree oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan. Let rest. Slice into 1-inch pieces. Serve with homemade mashed potatoes, rice, carrots, green beans, or salad.