Monday, November 12, 2012

Autumn Venison Steak Dinner for Two

Saturday is date night for hubby and I. We don't go out, but instead we enjoy a quiet meal at home. With candlelight, old records and a good bottle of wine. I try to not make a very big fuss about what we eat and usually it's just a steak or a piece of fish, a green salad and perhaps some bread. If we do have dessert, it'll also be something simple, a store-bought tiramisu or a small cheese board with some fresh fruit. Quality is important to us though, no matter how easy the meal. Buying our seasonal ingredients at the market or at our butcher is a big part of the fun. For the wine, I usually pull out a bottle from my own French collection.
Every season has its charm, but in the autumn, date night takes on a whole new dimension when warm, earthy dishes appear at our table and spending a little extra time at the stove is greatly rewarded. I am a huge fan of rustic dishes with game in the leading role: rabbit stewed in beer or with prunes, roast quail salads, guinea fowl with mash and gravy, hearty boar casseroles, confit of duck with red cabbbage or Puy lentils and of course, one of my absolute favorites - venison. The taste and texture of a properly cooked venison steak is out of this world, but it's the kind of meat that needs care and pampering. Its rich taste means you'll make yourself happier if you combine it with the right flavors. Venison loves to be cooked with sweet, aromatic ingredients (cherries, cranberries, port, prunes, rosemary) and paired with root vegetables, brussels sprouts, red cabbage, lentils and mushrooms. What you must always remember is the same as with any other steak: take your meat out of the fridge at least a half an hour before it hits the pan, dry it well, use butter and a drop of mild oil to fry it (please, please NO margarine) and let it rest for about 3-5 minutes before cutting into it so that the juices are evenly distributed.
Here is my easy way to prepare a proper venison steak. I served it with a 2007 Château Fombrauge St. Émilion Grand Cru. It was a meal to remember.

Autumn Venison Steak Dinner for Two
For the steaks:
2 venison steaks (125g each)
fleur de sel
freshly-cracked pepper
2 knob of butter
mild olive oil
125ml port
1 tsp cranberry jelly
1 tsp mustard (I used pain d'epices mustard Edmond Fallot)

For the mash:
300g celeriac, peeled and cut in chunks
1 large potato, unpeeled and cut in chunks
50ml cream
fleur de sel

To make the mash:Bring the vegetables to the boil in a pan of salted water. 
Cook until soft (approximately 20 minutes), drain and mash.
To make the steaks:Make sure they are not cold from the fridge (see explanation above). 
Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Dry the steaks, season with salt and pepper 
and cook for about 2-3 minutes a side. Take them out of the pan, wrap them in foil and 
make the jus. Add the port to the pan and scrape up all the brown bits. Reduce the heat 
just a bit. Add the cranberry jelly and the mustard and allow to bubble gently for a few 
minutes. Swirl in the butter.To serve, carefully slice the meat and drizzle with the jus. 
Serve with the mash. I also added some brussels sprouts which I cooked and threw in 
the last of the pan juices at the very last minute.

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