by Don Pratt
When I was a young boy I was captivated by the culture and the history of the Cowboys of the west, and the Gauchos of South America. These were hard men living in hard times doing what they could to get by. One of the most fascinating aspects of their lifestyle was how they prepared their meals with little more than meat and fire. When I was a young boy, my friends and I would hunt squirrels and rabbits and pretend that we “needed” to cook them over an open fire in order to survive. The results were always burnt, dry, and extremely chewy!
As the years passed and I became a better hunter, and a better home cook, I still loved the relationship between meat and fire!
This is a dish that I have prepared at camp in WY with Pronghorn, Kansas with whitetail, and even in my backyard for my young daughters as we played like we were hunting on the plains of the American West.
In camp, each hunter is responsible for preparing a certain number of meals, and unfortunately, most of my friends are not as skilled in the kitchen as they are behind a bow or a rifle, so I end up making this a lot.
This a dish that I have “tweaked” over many years of practice, and serving to friends and family while talking about the hunt that resulted in the meat that we were eating. It’s a simple dish, but when prepared properly, it celebrates the relationship between the meat, the fire and the fresh brightness of the produce, and will surely remind you and your friends why we work so hard to harvest wild game.
Ingredients & Instructions:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Zest from one lemon
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 3-4 cloves garlic chopped or minced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- I like my chimichurri SPICY, however, you should adjust to suit your taste. I suggest starting with 1/2 tablespoon crushed chili flakes or fresh finely chopped chili pepper. You can always ramp up the heat from there.
- I prefer chopping by hand versus using a food processor. Mix all listed ingredients…this can be done a day or two in advance and stored in the fridge.
Roasted Corn and Peppers
- 4 -6 ears fresh corn depending on size.
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 large red bell pepper
- Peel back the husk of your corn, and roast over fire until well charred, then set aside.
- Roast peppers until blistered and blackened, then place in a plastic bag to steam while you remove corn from the cob.
- Cut the corn from the cob.
- Remove peppers from the bag, and scrape most of the charred skin from them, remove seeds and discard. dice peppers to approximately match corn kernels.
- Mix corn and peppers together in a bowl.
- Any steak-worthy cut of wild game will work. I am using Pronghorn backstrap for this recipe.
- Sous Vide meat at 129F for 2 hours for what will ultimately be rare/med rare.
- After meat has cooked for 2 hours, Keeping the meat in the bag, plunge into an ice bath for 10 minutes. This will cool the outer layer of the meat and allow you to char the exterior without further cooking the interior.
- Remove meat from bag, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towel.
- Coat with a layer of oil, or rendered fat that has a high smoke-point.
- Grill over a HOT grill, or finish with a torch to sear the outside of the meat. *this needs to be HOT and brief to avoid cooking the meat further, as it has already been cooked. You could also use a really hot cast iron surface. Remember you are not “COOKING” the meat any longer, you are simply charring the outside for flavor as well as appearance.
- Brush meat with butter, sprinkle liberally with coarse salt, and set aside to rest while you prepare your plate.
Note: Obviously for the camp version I don’t use a sous vide or a weed torch, but for the home version, you can’t beat em.
Assembly and Plating
- Place the corn/pepper mix at the center of your plate and top with crumbled cotija cheese, and diced avocado.
- Slice your venison across the grain on the bias and place on the bed of corn.
- Either drizzle with chimichurri, or serve on the side.
- ENJOY, and reminisce about past hunts, and those yet to come!
Note: This dish pairs perfectly with a bright hoppy IPA that balances so well with the spiciness of the chimichurri, and the char character of the vegetables.