If you crave steak and lamb, but balk at venison, get ready to fall in love with this flavorful, healthy lean meat. Step one, score some fresh venison from your butcher. Step two, steal this simple-but-savory venison tenderloin recipe from Executive Chef David Carrier from The Cloister at Sea Island resort in coastal Georgia.
Venison Back Strap Medallions with Warm Roasted Fennel & Sweet Potato Salad
4–6 tablespoons canola or grape seed oil
Salt and pepper
2 3-inch medallions of venison loin
2 tablespoons sorghum
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 fennel bulb
4 ounces toasted walnut oil, divided
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1½ ounces Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallot
½ cup toasted walnut halves
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
Preheat a cast iron skillet until a drop of water dances on the bottom. Add enough canola or grape seed oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Salt and pepper the venison medallions and place in the preheated skillet. Cook venison on both sides until medium rare (130˚F), about 8 minutes total. Remove the venison from the skillet. Before serving, brush with sorghum and place in 350˚F oven for three minutes.
For the salad, prick sweet potatoes with a fork, and place in a salted pie tin and cook at 350˚F until tender, about an hour. Pull off the skin while still hot and cut into 1-inch chunks. Cut the fennel bulb into 1-inch slices, toss with 1 tablespoon of walnut oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and roast in a pan next to the sweet potatoes until the fennel is tender, about 10 minutes. In a mixing bowl combine the mustard, vinegar and shallots, then whisk in the remaining walnut oil to form a vinaigrette. Place the walnuts, potatoes and fennel into the mixing bowl and toss with the vinaigrette to coat. Then, season to taste with salt, parsley and tarragon. Serves 2.
Ryanne Carrier, sommelier at the resort, recommends Domaine d’Aupilhac 2001 Montpeyroux from France’s Languedoc region to match with the venison. “The wine is mainly comprised of Carignan from vines that are well over 60 years old,” says Carrier. “What I love about this pairing is how the intensity of the fruits plays into the naturally wild flavors of venison as well as the velvety texture of the wine wrapping itself around the lean meat.”