Venison revisited: Nero Wolfe’s venison September 23, 2010Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Game, Wolfe recipe.
As I have noted before, I am a fan of venison. At the time of cooking the original venison recipe, I searched for juniper berries to pair with the venison, but to no avail. However, I am blessed with inquisitive and resourceful friends, and was soon rewarded with a packet of juniper berries (bought at the IGA on Fitzroy St, St Kilda if others are interested).
With the juniper berries now sourced, I was eager to try Nero Wolfe’s venison recipe. I bought some venison from the Red Deer Farm at our local farmers’ market, and took it home to try the recipe immediately! It is worth noting that while Wolfe’s recipe calls for venison loin chops, I used a fillet piece – there were no loin chops available.
Timings in this recipe need to be considered as the meat must be marinated for 24 hours, so it’s important to make sure you start in advance! I was all excited to cook up my venison when I got home, only to discover I’d be having it the following day.
To begin with, I prepared the marinade. As we know from The Doorbell Rang, Nero Wolfe is very particular about the number of juniper berries to be added to the marinade. I was careful to only add four berries – 5 would have been right out. The marinade contained the juniper berries, shallots, carrot, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, salt and pepper – and the main liquid ingredient of vermouth. I chopped everything up and added the vermouth, and submerged the venison.
I covered the bowl, and left it for 24 hours in the fridge.
The next day, I took the meat out of the marinade, and patted it dry as best I could. I strained the marinade, so I still had about a cup of liquid left. I started to cook the meat in some butter on the stove – and then transferred it to the oven to continue cooking. This is the same process I used in the original venison dish I made, and while it differed slightly from the Nero Wolfe version I felt it would provide a better result for the cut of meat I had. I should note that this method of cooking still doesn’t take very long – a quick sear on either side on top of the stove then into the oven for 8-10 minutes.
While the meat was cooking, I prepared the sauce. I used the strained marinade I had left, and added some sour cream, stirring constantly. I also added a bit of flour to thicken it.
By this time, the meat had rested, and it was ready to serve. I had baked a mixture of vegetables, including brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips, and served these along side.
Having now tried the venison with the juniper berries, I can understand why this combination is recommended so much. The taste of the juniper berries definitely came through (even with only four being used!) and added some gaminess and depth of flavour without overwhelming the meat. The other elements in the marinade contributed to the overall effect, again adding different tastes and combinations while still letting the venison flavour come through.
One thing I did miss from the other venison recipe was the crust which had formed from the spices. This textural element was missing from this recipe and I certainly noticed its absence. The sauce made from the marinade was a nice accompaniment again without being overpowering.
All in all I’d classify this as a nice dish and one which would provide a good introduction to venison. I must credit Nero Wolfe with opening my eyes to the combination of juniper berries and venison – and of course, in instructing me in just how many juniper berries to use!