Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Locavore fun.

I got a call from a coworker yesterday asking me if I wanted a piece of venison. He'd pulled a back strap (filet) out of the freezer and had a small chunk of it left. Of course I do, I said. Not being a hunter and without a reliable source, I've never had the chance to prepare venison, but it has been on my list.

The piece he gave me was a little over half a pound, and I decided to prep it for dinner last night. Figured I wouldn't tell the kid what she was eating until after dinner. With distractions like homework and letters to Santa, I needn't have worried. She hung out in the kitchen while I prepped the meal.

I'd done some research on preparations and came down to the following: quick marinade in red wine, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage. Three minutes on each side to brown it with a touch of olive oil in a hot cast-iron skillet. Seven minutes in a 400-degree oven. Transfer to a plate and put the skillet back on the stove for a reduction. Reduce the reserved marinade with extra wine and a splash of balsamic vinegar thrown in. Serve with couscous and snow peas.

The meat came off a perfect medium rare. With a drizzle of sauce, it was tender and lean and just phenomenal. The kid even ate her whole serving and gave it two thumbs up. I decided to compliment it with a wine produced only a few miles from where the deer had been shot — Villa Appalaccia's Toscanello. I've wanted to pair this bottle with venison since I first poured it at a wine festival two years ago, and I'm pleased to say my gut instinct was dead-on. The pairing was phenomenal. The layers of fruit and pepper from the sangiovese/primitivo/cab franc blend complimented the flavors of the meat so that holding both in your mouth produced a brilliant synergy of flavor.

The kicker on the whole thing was getting around to telling the kid what she'd had. "I ate deer?" she asked. When I said yes, she said, "Hunh. It was good." One more foodie-parent victory...