The food has been consumed, the wine (and beer and scotch and bourbon) have been finished off, and I've finally, fully, recovered from last Saturday night's First Annual Wild Game Throwdown.
I hope my four esteemed guests had as much fun eating the grub as I did preparing it. Over the next week or so, I'm going to post a few recipes from the shindig. Please give them a try, and let me know what you think.
The piece de resistance (in my opinion, anyway) was Axis venison au poivre. As legend has it, Axis was a type of deer that was originally imported to Texas from the Indian subcontinent by cattlebarons, who were sick and tired of ranch hands poaching beef cattle for an impromptu ribeye. Now, it runs wild (and yes, under high-fence) as an exotic across the Texas plains. It is essentially a fat free meat --leaner than chicken breast -- yet inexplicably tastes similar to beefsteak. Like most any venison, it's best served rare or medium rare, and the recipe I used works just as well on whitetail backstrap.
I adapted this recipe from Alton Brown, the quirky yet astute Food Network chef. He uses beef tenderloin, but I used centimeter-thick backstrap fillets, and it was every bit as good, if not better, than the domestic version. Here's the adapted recipe:
- 1-2 lbs venison backstrap
- coarsely ground pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 tbs unsalted butter
- 1tsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup cognac
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
Pull the steaks from the fridge for an hour before you cook them. Rub the meat with the pepper and salt... I use 2-3 parts pepper for 1 part salt. Don't overdo it, but amply crust it.
Heat a thick-bottomed skillet to medium, then melt the butter and olive oil. Once the butter is melted, toss on the steaks. Flip them after 30 seconds (for rare) to a minute (for medium rare) -- any longer than that and you might as well be frying shoe leather. Move the steaks to a plate and cover with foil.
Pull the skillet off heat, and pour in the cognac, and light with one of those long fireplace lighters (you can use a match at your own peril). Once the flames die (yes, alcohol burns, kids!), swirl in the cream, and slowly heat it until it thickens (usually just 2-3 minutes). Pour the sauce over the meat and prepare for unmitigated awesomeness.