While in Trento (in the Italian North Eastern region of Trentino), and cooking with local Grappa, I came up with this recipe…
Recipe: Pan-seared drunken venison fillet
500g venison fillet (tenderloin) (about 1lb piece, at room temperature)
100g buckwheat flour (about 3/4 cup)
50g Fontal cheese (about 2oz)
100ml grappa (about 3.5oz)
6 shiitake mushrooms (depending on their size)
2 medium eggs
50g butter (about 2oz at room temperature)
1 celery stalk
1 small white onion
aromatic fresh herbs
salt and black pepper
organic sunflower oil
Marinade the venison – Chop the celery, the carrot, the onion and some aromatics – I’ve used fresh tarragon, thyme, and summer savory (leaves only), place the mix in a bowl. Pour 1/2 of the grappa, some oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix thoroughly and lay the fillet over it. Massage the meat to coat evenly all the sides.
Let it marinade for 1 hour.
Marinade the mushrooms – Rinse each of them under cold running water, then carefully pat them dry. Remove the stems (too tough and leathery to eat) and, on a tray, place each cap gills-side-up. Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 lemon (more if you like), 1 spoon of grappa, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Prep the pears and the deconstructed tempura mix – Rinse, cut in halves, core and slice the pears (half moon shape).
In a bowl whisk the dry mix made of buckwheat flour, salt and pepper (you could add also some cornstarck for a fluffier result).
In another bowl whisk the eggs, season it and keep it stand-by.
Venison – Heat a heavy-based frying pan until very hot (something big enough to accomodate the whole fillet), pour some oil and sear the meat on all sides until it looks golden-brown (this shall take about two minutes).
Reduce the heat to a smoothly fry, add a generous chunk of butter and baste the meat turning it regularly. Cooking time about 6-8 minutes (or until cooked to your liking). Remove it from the pan, place it on a tray, cover it and set aside to rest.
The Sauce – To the same pan add the marinade. Cook, stirring until the vegetables are softened. Deglaze with the rest of the grappa, simmer till the liquid is reduced by 1/2. Remove from the heat and twirl in a knob (or more) of cold butter. Set aside and keep warm.
Pears and Shiitake (deconstructed tempura)
Coat the pears in the flour mix, next in the egg mix, then fry them until crispy. Transfer the slices on a tray with absorbing paper. Repeat.
Same with the mushrooms.
Chips of Fontal – Just before serving place some strips of Fontal in a dry pan. Once they start melting remove it and mold it in the form you prefer. Watch-it, it’s very hot!
Plating/Serving – Cut the fillet in 4 steaks, should be around 4cm thick/each (1.6in; 2in if you prefer thicker).
In each plate place 1 steak with pear, mushrooms and the Fontal chips; serve with pan sauce on the side.
Note: Unfortunately my marinade burned (oops), so I’ve served my venison with some lemony butter sauce. Yummy!