A couple nights ago, our friend Dave dropped off a whole lot of venison to us as a gift from his dad. The whole round and both backstraps (boneless loin cuts): basically, the meatiest parts of the deer, which Dave’s father hunted with a crossbow. Based on the musky, floral scent that came off the meat as I ground it for the freezer, a week ago this deer was eating rosehips from Long Island gardens.
Tonight we ate the first of it. I cut the backstrap in half, and stuffed it with sausage that I made from ground venison round. I saw this on Master Chef, done with pork, and wanted to see if it would work for me: to roast lean meat that I’ve crammed full of sausage (enriched with pork suet) to give it seasoning and flavor.
I seasoned the ground venison with a tablespoon each of whole coriander seed, juniper berry, and anise seed, plus 1/4 tsp of green peppercorns, all ground finely together, as well as 3/4 tsp salt and 2 ounces of rendered pork suet, diced fine, for a pound of ground meat. I only used half the spice mixture, and it was still a bit strong. I could have used less spice and added some fresh garlic.
While the spices were their own experiment, and the results questionable, on the whole, this actually does work. Because the meat inside is ground, it cooks faster than the solid meat around it. To make a hole, I just slid the knife carefully into the center of the roast, once from each end, then pushed in little bits of meat at a time until it was bulging.
I browned the stuffed roast in a pan (just a few minutes total) and then finished it in a slow oven (300 degrees for about 20 more minutes), the internal temp was 145—plenty hot for sausage—and the surrounding loin meat was still rosy pink. Half the backstrap I roasted unstuffed, for comparison. (It only took ten minutes to finish after browning.) It cooked up like lean, grassfed beef, but with a flavor that is something else.
Accompanying the venison, I made a pan gravy with fat from the top of a pot of venison stock, that I softened leeks in, and then made a roux with some of the stock. I made a pot of polenta, and warmed up some mixed greens from the freezer. These were a slightly bitter mix, including some mustard, which was just right against the gravy and meat.
For dessert, I made a bread pudding using the Cooks’ Illustrated recipe, with some added apples poached in maple syrup and water, cinnamon, and cardamom.
I don’t usually make quite this big a production, but today is Thursday, when our friends come over for dinner, and it’s the first Thursday since they’ve both returned from their holiday travels, and I wanted to thank Dave for his gift. Our other friend who usually joins us has been in poor health and I’m happy to see him home and well enough to come over for dinner, so that was also cause for celebration.
I forgot to take a picture of my dinner plate before we chowed down, so I took one of the lunch I packed for Kevin to take to work tomorrow.