Loin of Black Bear Wrapped in Wild Mushrooms with Lentil-Orzo Cake
Bear meat, while not found in the average supermarket, is available in some localities. It is prized for its flavor. You may substitute venison, buffalo, or even tenderloin steaks for the bear in this delectable dish, seared steaks atop lentil-orzo cakes with a rich, cherry-studded sauce.
- Bear or Venison Bones - about 2 pounds, roughly chopped
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Onion - 1, diced
- Carrot - 1, diced
- Garlic Cloves - 3, crushed
- Celery Stalk - 1/2, diced
- Tomato - 1, diced
- Tomato paste - 1 teaspoon
- Cognac - 1/3 cup
- Grapes - 3 ounces
- Thyme Sprigs - 1
- Cabernet Sauvignon - 2 cups
- Dried Cherries - 2 ounces
- Veal Stock - 16 ounces
- Lentil-Orzo Cake
- Uncooked Orzo - 4 ounces
- Scallions - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Lentils - 4 ounces, uncooked
- Chicken Stock - 8 ounces
- Veal Stock - 2 ounces
- Pecorino cheese - 1/2 ounce, grated
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Black Bear Loin - 12 ounces, cut into 3-ounce steaks
- Morel Mushrooms - 8 ounces, cleaned and sliced in half
- Shallots - 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Potatoes - 2 medium
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Butter Lettuce - 1 small, head
- Sorrel-infused Oil - 1/4 cup (optional) or extra virgin olive oil
To prepare the sauce: In a large stockpot, saute the bones in the butter until the bones are well browned and a brown glaze has formed on the bottom of the pot. Add the vegetables and saute for 3 minutes, stirring up the glaze. Add the tomato, tomato paste, cognac, grapes, thyme, red wine, and half the cherries. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the veal stock and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Strain through a colander and discard the large pieces, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve and discard the remaining solids. Return to the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining cherries. Set aside and keep warm.
To prepare the lentil-orzo cake: Prepare the orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Saute the shallots in the butter until softened, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and chicken stock and simmer until the lentils are soft, 10 to 40 minutes, depending on the type of lentils used. Drain any remaining liquid, then stir in the veal stock. Cook until nearly all liquid has evaporated. Divide the orzo in half and lightly puree one half. Mix the pureed orzo, whole orzo, lentils, cheese, and sauteed scallions together. Place 2-1/2-inch buttered ring molds on a baking sheet and pack with the mixture. Set aside.
To prepare the bear: Heat a saute pan or skillet over high heat and brush with olive oil. Sear the steaks until well browned on each side. Set aside and let cool. Saute the morels and shallots in half of the butter, browning them well. Peel the potatoes, trim to uniform size, and cut into very thin large slices on a mandoline or V-slicer.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wrap each steak with some of the morels and the potato slices, wetting the slices and pressing together to hold them. Saute the wrapped steaks in the remaining butter in an ovenproof saute pan or skillet until the potato wrapping is golden brown. Place in the oven to finish the meat, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on taste.
To serve: Heat the butter in a non-stick skillet. Unmold the lentil-orzo cakes and saute until lightly browned. Place a cake to one side on each warmed serving plate. Slice the wrapped steaks in half and place two halves, exposed side up, on each cake. Toss the lettuce leaves in a little of the sorrel-infused oil or olive oil. Place a cluster of lettuce leaves beside the meat and arrange morel slices among the leaves. Drizzle sauce and sorrel-infused oil (optional) over the plates, interspersing a few cherries in the sauce.