By Ambassador Rich Malloy
While grilled venison backstraps and burgers have their place, this beautiful meat we harvest is much more versatile. It can be braised or smoked, cured or even eaten raw. I often find myself stepping outside of my comfort zone inside the kitchen when cooking venison, which leads me to the recipe in this article: Sous Vide Venison.
The sous vide was introduced to me a few years ago by my brother / Executive Chef, Pete. Now, let me say, you do not need to use a sous vide to get a perfect medium rare finish, but it sure does help.
So what is a sous vide? It’s a way of cooking at a controlled temp, submerged in a container of water. Drop your meat into a large ziplock bag or air sealed food saver bag, add some herbs, fat, spices, really whatever you like. Set your time and temp and you’re good to go.
For this recipe it’s best to use the more tender cuts of venison like eye of round (the hidden tenderloin), backstrap or large tenderloins. I do not recommend using TLs from a small deer because they are easy to overcook. Hit those in a hot cast iron pan with some butter for 2-3 minutes per side and they’re done.
Sous Vide Venison Backstrap
In the bag:
Stalk of rosemary
Hunk of unsalted grass-fed butter
2 garlic cloves, hand crushed
I prefer to add salt and pepper after it’s finished in the sous vide.
Set your sous vide to 120°, fully submerge the air tight bag in the pot or container and clip the bag to the side. If needed, check out this tutorial on how to air seal a ziplock bag.
From here, let your venison cook for a minimum of 1.5 hours. The larger the cut, the more time is needed. For reference, a quarter backstrap from a normal size deer will be 2 hours.
As the venison is taking its water bath, you can prep and cook the rest of your meal. One of the added benefits of cooking with the sous vide is timing becomes much easier. The meal will not overcook in the water bath. This allows you to clean up, relax and not rush around while in the kitchen.
When your venison is done pull it out of the water bath and take it out of the bag. Place the venison into a very hot cast iron pan and get a sear on all sides. Remember, the meat is already cooked to perfection, now your just searing the outside. Be careful not to overcook it!
Rest it for 10 minutes and then slice across the grain.
Miso Sweet Potato Purée
1 tbsp Miso paste
1 - 2 tbsps Butter
Salt + pepper
This is easy. Skin and boil your sweet potatoes, don’t forget to salt the water. Strain the water from the sweet potatoes (save a cup of that water) when they are fork tender and add them into your blender. From here, add a tablespoon of miso paste and a little butter. I like to use organic white miso. Blend it together and taste for salt. Add back in some of the water used to boil the potatoes to adjust consistency to your liking. Crack some black pepper on top before serving.
Roasted beet salad
You can pair any veggie you like with venison and sweet potatoes. I’ll often use arugula with some lemon and olive but for this dish I had some extra beets that I roasted the previous day. Salads like roasted beet like this are simple: evoo, acid, herbs, salt and pep.
This can also be served as a warm salad.
Roasted beets (skins off)
Cilantro (mint or basil work well here if you’re in the “cilantro taste like soap,” gang)
Lemon juice and zest
Crumbled goat cheese (can substitute with feta or blue cheese)
Salt + pepper
Dice your beets and onions and roughly chop your cilantro. Add your olive oil and lemon juice then season with salt and pepper, mix everything. Zest some lemon before serving.
To plate I like to place the venison on top of the sweet potato purée. Serve the beet salad on the sides. The colors of this dish are amazing as well as the flavors! Enjoy!”
By Ambassador John Sunkler
1 package of egg roll wrappers
Vegetable or canola oil
For the sauce:
Minced red chile (check the produce and international sections of your grocery store)
Optional: Water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, scallions, yellow bell pepper, any additional vegetables you prefer.
Do ahead: Slice the duck breast in small strips and marinate in hoisin sauce over night.
Cook the duck in a pan with sesame seed oil until about 2/3 done. Remove from heat and drain excess sauce. Let cool.
In the same pan: Add white cabbage, carrots and minced ginger. After a few minutes add any other vegetables you prefer. Add 5-spice powder. Add a few dashes of soy sauce and hoisin and let everything blend together, until the cabbage is getting soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
At that point if you’re using the same pan, clean out with a paper towel and add vegetable or canola oil and heat up to prep for frying. Once the duck and vegetables are cool enough to work with, pull out the egg rolls and add 1 spoonful of duck and 2 of veggies.
Then wrap like a burrito. Hint: Before completely rolling, brush some water on the final corner so when you rolled, it completely holds together. Once you have 4-5 rolled and the oil is ready, place in the pan and fry 2-3 minutes, flipping until all sides are brown. Let cool on a plate with a paper towel.
For the sauce:
Mix together some minced red chile, wasabi and Ranch dressing until you reach your desired blend of spicy.
Also known as: Traditional Austrian Leberknödelsuppe
This recipe is more than just cooking for me; it serves as a time for me to reflect on the man that gave me my passion for the outdoors and for all facets of cooking.
My father was born in Golling, Austria in 1940 and grew up very poor as many did during WWII Europe. Meat was a luxury many could not afford or even locate due to the war effort. Most meat was kept for the higher class citizens, military, and government officials; this usually only left the organs and bones. My father used to tell me of how resourceful his mother was and how she could create so much with so little, especially when making soups from scratch. This was a skill that my father learned by watching her and passed down to me. While he was a gourmet chef that could create the most elaborate dishes, most of his friends reminisce about his soups and how he could create them out of little to nothing. This dish is a perfect example of my families resourcefulness in the toughest of times with ingredients most leave in the woods. I hope you consider adding liver and leg bones to the list of important pieces to bring out of the woods!
John Francis Sunkler
Whitetail Deer Liver Dumplings Ingredients:
1 lbs. Whitetail Deer Liver (I like to brine my liver for one or two days in salt water prior to any preparation)
2 small Yellow Onions
4 Tablespoons of Butter
4 Tablespoons of chopped Parsley
½ Teaspoon of Marjoram
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
2 cups Bread Crumbs (plus a little more to form dumplings)
8 cups of Whitetail Deer Bone Broth (Beef Broth can be interchanged).
Roughly chop the liver, onion, and parsley and place into a food processor with the butter and seasonings, and process until semi-smooth. Add the breadcrumbs and eggs and process until blended uniformly.
Form dumplings (in between a golf ball and baseball size dumpling is ideal). Optional: Add more bread crumbs after processing allows the dumplings to hold together better.
Bring broth to a boil. Add dumplings and reduce heat to a simmer. Dumplings will float to the top when they are done, about 20 minutes.
Serve soup, garnished with parsley. I like to serve my soup as an appetizer with fresh brown bread. I do this since most folks I cook for are leery of trying liver, for those who have tried it; I serve a larger portion with a side salad and brown bread as an entrée.
Whitetail Bone Broth Ingredients
I save up the leg bones from two to three Whitetail deer to ensure a rich flavor and large quantity of Broth to freeze and use for later preparations. In this case, I will be using three Whitetails worth of bones and my ingredients below will mirror that. For smaller amounts of bones, reduce the amount of ingredients below respectively.
Fresh Herbs (I use Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Marjoram, Thyme, and Bay Leaves) a two or three sprigs of each
1 Bulb of Garlic
2 White Onions
4 Celery stalks
Seasonings (Salt, Pepper, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is warming, place the bones on a cooking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the bones and season with salt, pepper. Roast the bones for an hour or until browned.
Fill stock pot halfway up with salted water and turn on heat to low. Place roasted bones into pot and add enough water to fill. Add chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices. Cook on low heat to achieve a nice slow simmer. I like to let it simmer for a minimum of 12 hours, 24 being ideal. Once complete, let the stock cool and skim the surface of fats and oils. I like to strain my stock twice through a fine mesh strainer to ensure all the particulates are removed.
I used 2 quarts of this fresh broth for my Liver Dumpling Soup and the remainder I will freeze in quart sized plastic containers. I like to use plastic as its robust and can accept expansion, but always leave a good a amount of headspace in the container. Once frozen the broth can last at least a year, but it usually doesn’t last more than a few months in my house!