If you know someone who hunts deer (or other wild game for that matter), make friends with him. I annually get the “hook-up” from my friend C, who is a skilled, yet conservative bow hunter. Most bow hunters feel that this type of hunting, requires more patience, more prowess, and more precision than hunting with a rifle. C usually takes down 1-2 deer per season, all of which he eats or freezes, or most importantly, shares.
Last season C graciously gifted me with a venison tenderloin, the best cut. I had intended to serve the meat for Thanksgiving (how much more “traditional” can you get?), but T and I ended up spending the holiday with his family instead.
Venison being somewhat of a rare delicacy, I kept putting it off for a “special occasion”. Well, after looking at that deer loin in my freezer for months and thinking, “man, I need to cook that!”, I’ve realized that if I keep waiting for a “special occasion” I’m never going to eat it!
-1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
-1/4 cup light olive oil
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning (or seasoning of your choice) (I add a little extra marjoram)
-1 teaspoon salt
-black pepper, fresh ground, to taste
Soak venison for 24-48 hours, changing water every 12 hours or so. Soaking removes the blood, thus removing the “gamey” taste that most folks don’t like about wild game. (Some people suggest soaking the meat in milk or vinegar. I prefer water because it’s simple.)
After meat has soaked in water for a couple of days, place in plastic bag or sealed container with marinade. Let meat marinate for 8-12 hours, or over night.
Pre-heat oven to 350. Remove meat from marinade; save remaining marinade.
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil, or non stick cooking spray, in skillet until a drop of water sizzles. Add meat to skillet, browning each side for about two minutes. Remove meat from skillet and place on aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Make a “packet” out of the foil and pour in about 1/4 cup of the left over marinade; seal foil packet by folding over the edges. Venison has very little fat, thus wrapping in foil with the marinade allows the meat to baste, thus preventing it from drying out. Usually you would never re-use a marinade, but in this case it is OK since the meat and the marinade will be cooked, and you will not actually be ingesting the left-over marinade.
Let meat cook for about 20 minutes, inserting a sharp knife to check for doneness. Venison is best served medium rare or medium, otherwise the meat dries-out and becomes tough. (You may also use a meat thermometer for better temperature precision.)
Remove meat from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Cut meat on the bias and serve! As you see from the photo, I served my venison with oven roasted potatoes (olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, fresh-ground black pepper, rosemary, and a “dash” of Mrs. Dash Original), and steamed green beans.