Saturday, November 12, 2016

Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Salad

My brother, Ngoc, came out to visit us last weekend. He still lives out in California and having had little opportunity to enjoy wild game, we promised him that we would feast! But I also didn't want to spend hours cooking in the kitchen while there were other things to do and see near Omaha. 

So on the night that he arrived, along with serving a lovely charcuterie and cheese board with French bread and rosé wine, we also prepared an easy pan seared venison loin cooked to medium rare. It's a simple dish that will allow your dinner guest(s) to truly taste the venison, which is complemented by local wild mushrooms and a lightly dressed salad that does not overpower. My brother also has never had morels before, so this dish was a taste of wild Nebraska. If you have access to local wild greens, that would be ever better. Because it's November, we had to use dried morel mushrooms given to us by a friend. We've been saving it for a special occasion just like this! 

Sorry about the vague measurements. For recipes like these, we use what we have on hand and stretch the ingredients as necessary. Nothing has to be exact-- cook to your liking.

Servings: 4 
Prep Time: 1 hour 
Cooking Time: 30 minutes 
Ingredients: 
- Venison loin, about 2 pounds 
- Kosher salt 
- Fresh course ground pepper, to taste 
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil 
- 1 package of mixed greens with arugula 
- Thinly sliced red onion 
- 1 tomato, diced 
- French vinaigrette (we used Brianna's brand) 
- Goat cheese, optional 
- Morel mushrooms, fresh or dried 
- Splash of cognac, whiskey or brandy 
- Shallots, thinly sliced 
- Chives, chopped 
- Butter 

Directions: 

1. Remove all silver skin from venison loin. Allow meat to rest at room temperature for 1 hour prior to cooking. This will help the meat cook more evenly, especially if you're aiming for medium rare. If using dried mushrooms, pour boiled water over mushrooms. Mushrooms should reconstitute in about 20 minutes. Drain and pat mushrooms dry before cooking. 

2. Pat venison dry with paper towels. (Wet meat does not brown as well. We want nice crust!) Cut loin into smaller sections as necessary to fit into your pan. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper all over loins-- I'm pretty liberal with the salt. Over medium high heat, heat olive oil in a pan large enough to accommodate meat. When oil is nice and hot, sear venison loin for about 2 minutes on all four sides, plus the two ends. Your oil must be properly heated to achieve optimal brown crust. You'll have to use your tongs to keep the loin upright while searing. Once browned, loosely wrap loin in foil to rest for 5 minutes. 

3. In the same pan, add butter. Add sliced shallot and cook until soft, about 2-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms have given up most of their moisture and are slightly browned. 5-7 minutes. Add a splash of cognac, whiskey or brandy and cook until alcohol is mostly evaporated. Take off heat, season with salt and pepper and chopped chives. Add a little bit more butter. 

4. Toss greens, tomato, red onion and French vinaigrette. Taste and add salt, pepper and sugar to your salad as necessary. Crumble goat cheese with a fork (your hands will melt the cheese and make it too gooey) and sprinkle on top of salad. Slice venison loin into medallions and serve with the salad and mushrooms. Steak sauce optional.

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