HUNTING -- Nothing celebrates a successful hunting season more than putting the meat on the table. Hunters work hard for their game, and they pay respect to their effort and their animal when they take care to serve it with a flair.
"Venison is the crowning jewel of game meats," says Todd Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Outdoor Life, which is running a special story package on game-meat cooking in this month's magazine. "It’s a high-protein, low-fat meat."
Read on to sample one of the recipes.
GRILLED DRUNKEN VENISON CHOPS with Pommes Frites
8 double-cut venison loin chops (remove sinew from eye of meat)
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (reserve remainder of bottle for drinking)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 Tbs. cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
2 sprigs thyme, cleaned
1 Tbs. crushed juniper berries
Pinch-plus of Kosher or sea salt
2 cups blended olive/vegetable oil
2-3 Idaho potatoes, washed and sliced lengthwise in ¼-inch wedges and patted dry
1. Whisk together wine, garlic, pepper, olive oil, shallot, thyme and juniper berries for marinade. (Do not include salt!) Place chops and marinade together in a large dish, making sure to coat meat thoroughly on all sides. Refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or up to 12 hours, turning meat several times.
2. Preheat grill to ensure that the chops will be nicely seared. (The best fire for cooking is natural charcoal, but gas will do.)
3. Wipe excess marinade off shops before placing chops on grill to avoid flare-ups from olive oil (and chipped teeth from juniper berries!). Turn over only once on grill to help get nice grill marks.
4. When you’ve reached your favorite doneness for venison (preferably no more than medium), pull chops from grill. Let rest to set juices (5-8 minutes). Sprinkle with sea salt.
Heat oil slowly in deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Look for heat waves rippling across surface oil, or test small piece of potato before adding all fries. (Oil that is too hot or too cold is your enemy — the ideal temperature is 435 degrees.)
Gently add potatoes to oil, browning on all sides to tender inside. Remove to baking screen or cookie sheet with paper towel and salt immediately.
Serve one or two loin chops per person with pommes frites, pour a glass of cabernet and enjoy!