Friday, December 5, 2014

Venison Loin 2 ways

Yes it's a small plate but it wasn't the only course!

Venison loin is an absolutely delicious and tender piece of meat. I had some friends who were given a beautiful frozen venison loin and wasn't too sure what to do with it... I came up with a few ideas :).

The venison loin is the deer equivalent of a beef tenderloin or a pork loin. It's an extremely tender and nearly fatless piece of meat. Personally I think it also has the least flavor of any cut of meat as well. If you overcook the loin it very quickly dries out. I wanted to do something which could quickly highlight the flavor of the meat itself without masking it.

I decided to dry brine it, which involves cutting the loin into medallions then coating the entire outside of the meat with far too much salt and allowing it to sit on a rack for 30-45 minutes. It's cruder then true brine, but it takes a minimal amount of time. Since there is an excess of salt it quickly seasons the meat all the way into the core and draws a large amount of moisture out of the meat, concentrating the flavor. The salt actually begins to denature and relax the proteins in the meat which will allow them to hold on to more of their liquid and draw more flavors from the smoke as they cook.

After the 30-45 minute rest period I rinse all of the excess salt off of the meat, all the salt we need is already embedded deep inside. I dry the meat with a paper towel and grill over direct heat charcoal until they are medium rare.

I served this with a raspberry and Cabernet compote with almost no added sugar. The tartness and acidity of the raspberries paired surprisingly well with the umami venison medallion. The nasturtium flower... looked pretty... right? It is a very light aromatic flavor with just a tiny hint of bitter, it really didn't do much for the steak but it certainly didn't hurt, and you eat with your eyes first right?

Quick compote recipe:
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 C water
1/2 C Cabernet
2 T butter
1 T sugar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch minced rosemary

Add sugar, water and raspberries to a pot and bring to a boil until you've removed most of the moisture. Add the wine, salt and rosemary mix well and let simmer. Once the desired thickness has been reached (the pectin in the raspberries will thicken this up a lot) add your butter to give the sauce a nice gloss and serve with your finished and rested steaks!

Mom's Venison Bulgogi

This is a dish my mother has been making since I was a baby, usually she uses beef, and I have substituted venison loin.

I wrap the venison loin in plastic wrap and place it in my freezer for 20-30 minutes to firm up and make it possible to cut thinner. These thin shavings of meat are then marinated in a Korean Bulgogi sauce then skewered and grilled to perfection.

Mom's Venison Bulgogi:

 2 lb. thin sliced venison
1/2 C soy sauce
3 T sesame seeds
6 T sugar
4 sliced green onions
2 T sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic,  minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 t grated frozen ginger
2 T sherry

Place all marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Carefully mix your thinly sliced meat into the marinade and let it sit for at least 10 minutes up to 24 hours. If you want an even more authentic experience you can add in 2 T of Gochujang which is a Korean Red Pepper paste, hard to find but very worth it!

Skewer each piece of meat multiple times folding it back and forth to keep it in place. Grill over charcoal and enjoy immediately!

I served both of these with a garden fresh ratatouille, but that will have to be another post!


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