The Wild Game of Pairing Spices with Venison
By: Jennifer Hoyt Lalli, Author of Hunt & Gather
When most people describe cooking venison, they use words like: tough, gamey, dry, and challenging. If more Americans were familiar with preparing wild game, their descriptors would be: tender, succulent, gourmet, and easy. Since venison has significantly less fat than cow, it just needs to be seasoned properly and cooked according to its cut. In my cookbook, Hunt & Gather, I “break down” venison recipes according to each filet for maximum flavor and texture. Here, I am sharing my 4 favorite pairings (and a corresponding recipe using them – Bordeaux Backstraps): 1) salt/pepper, 2) an allium, 3) an aromatic, and 4) an acid. The first seasoning is obvious. Always begin preparing wild game, or any meat, with a light coating of good sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Second, choose (purchase) or use (what you have) your favorite fresh allium (garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, or onion). Third, purchase, pick, or sprinkle your favored fresh or dried herb. Be creative here! These may include: star anise, rosemary, thyme, fennel (fresh, pollen, or seed), or peppers (fresh or dried rubs). For more ideas on pairings, see the Chapter, “Stocking the Pantry” in Hunt & Gather – The Healing Powers of Whole Grains, Lean Meat, and Prayer.
The fourth pairing, an acid, be it citrus, vinegar, or wine, is certainly my favorite. I love lemon in everything from water to wild game, and a dash of vinegar ties almost any dish together. Last but not least, wine is wonderful anytime. I hoped to attend Shot 2015, but rather, had to travel to Sacramento for my day job (President and Chemist at NanoSonic). We brought our 11-month-old son with us on his first flight, and braved dining at several Michelin rated restaurants with him (including Bouchon, fulfilling a dream of mine). Little did we know that God would be fulfilling another dream of ours, a second pregnancy! So, this January (just 2 weeks away from welcoming our daughter), while I can’t attend Shot or drink wine, I can certainly cook with it! A little heat removes the alcohol and intensifies the flavors within your wild game. May all of your life and cooking dreams come true in 2016 and God Bless you through Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”