Loin of Venison
Deer are plentiful in the woods of New England, and this is a classic way to prepare lean and flavorful venison. The sauce is a reduction of the red wine and herb marinade. Chef Grangien accompanies the venison with vegetable charlottes, filled with silky celery root custard. Serve this dish garnished with potato roses (below).
- Venison loin - 2-1/2 pounds, on the bone
- Dry Red Wine - 2 cups
- Carrots - 2, peeled and thinly sliced
- Onion - 1 small, thinly sliced
- Parsley Sprigs - 4 fresh
- Celery Stalk - 1, sliced
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Thyme Sprigs - 4 fresh
- Garlic Clove - 1, minced
- Black Peppercorns - 1/2 teaspoon
- Tomato - 1 large, seeded and diced
- Vegetable Oil - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Reserved trimmings and bones from venison loin
- Reserved marinade, above
- Water - 4 cups
- Celery Root Charlottes
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Carrots - 2, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch julienne
- Zucchini - 1, cut into 1/4-inch julienne
- Yellow Squash - 1, cut into 1/4-inch julienne
- Celery Root - 1, about 12 ounces to 1 pound
- Egg - 1, lightly beaten
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Shallots - 2, minced
- Dry Red Wine - 1/4 cup
- Potato Roses - 4, (recipe below)
- Mixed Fresh Herbs - 1/3 cup, minced (rosemary, thyme, tarragon, parsley)
Two days before you wish to serve the venison, trim the meat of most visible fat, cut the meat off the bone, and slice the meat into two steaks. Cut the bone into small chunks. Cover and refrigerate the trimmings and bone.
To make the marinade: In a non-aluminum baking pan, combine the marinade ingredients. Add the venison, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the venison occasionally.
The next day, remove the meat from the marinade, cover it with plastic wrap, and return it to the refrigerator. Reserve the marinade in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
To make the stock: In a Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the reserved venison trimmings and bone and brown for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently and making sure the fat does not burn. Discard the grease from the pan and add the reserved marinade. Raise the heat to high and stir the liquid, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge the brown bits. Add the water and cook the liquid over high heat until reduced by three-fourths to an almost syrupy consistency. When 3/4 to 1 cup liquid remains, remove the stock from the heat, strain it though a fine-meshed sieve, cover, and refrigerate.
To make the vegetable charlottes: Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease the inside of four 6-ounce ramekins. Trim the vegetable julienne to the height of the ramekins and set aside. Peel the celery root and slice it thinly, quickly placing the slices in a medium saucepan filled with cold water to prevent discoloration. Lightly salt the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and boil the slices until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the slices, and set aside to cool.
When the celery root has cooled, place the slices in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Fold in the beaten egg, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
While the celery root is cooking, bring another pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and boil until tender yet still firm, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the carrots from the pan with a slotted spoon. Boil the zucchini for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes and remove from the water. Cook the squash for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes and drain. Set all the vegetables aside individually.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. When the vegetables are cool, line the inside of the ramekins with the vegetables in alternating colors (carrot, squash, zucchini). The colored side of the squash and zucchini should be facing the outside of the ramekin. After each mold has been lined with the vegetable sticks, fill the molds with the celery root puree. Place the filled ramekins in a roasting pan and place it in the oven. Pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the ramekins in the water bath until the celery root mixture is set, 15 to 20 minutes, or when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan and let sit for 5 minutes.
To cook the venison: Season the marinated venison with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan or skillet over high heat. Sear the venison steaks on each side for 1 minute. Reduce hat to medium-high and cook the steaks for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for rare, or longer if you prefer. Remove the venison from the heat and place on a warmed serving platter.
To finish the sauce: Place the pan in which the venison was cooked back on the stove over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, or until the shallots are browned. Add the red wine to the pan, stirring to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook to reduce until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the reduced stock and cook to reduce to 1/2 cup, or until the sauce coats a spoon. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, stirring to incorporate, and strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
To serve: Invert the ramekins onto small plates to unmold the charlottes. Slice the venison steaks and fan the meat out on serving plates. Using a large metal spatula, place a celery root charlotte to one side on each plate. Nap the meat with the red wine sauce and sprinkle with herbs. Place a potato rose at the apex of the meat slices.
Although these are a good deal of work and require a steady hand with a paring knife, they cause gasps of awe when served. The potatoes may be cut, fried, and left at room temperature up to 4 hours before being baked.
Working with one potato at a time, peel a potato. Using a very sharp paring knife, cut a slice off the bottom so that it sits flat on the counter. Holding the potato with the flat surface on the bottom, cut a continuous slice so that the potato becomes a long, curled sheet. If the potato breaks, keep slicing; it can be assembled later.
When you get to the center of the potato, leave a piece the size of a cork. Twirl the potato back loosely, and it will curve and form a rose shape. Place the rose gently in a bowl of ice water to prevent discoloration, and repeat with the remaining potatoes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat the clarified butter over high heat in a small saucepan. Drain one potato rose and blot it gently with paper towels to avoid splattering. Season the potato with salt and pepper and gently lower it into the hot butter with a slotted spoon. Fry the potato for 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and place it in a shallow baking dish. Repeat with each potato rose.
Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until very brown. Blot gently with paper towels and serve immediately.