ser·en·dip·i·ty the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way
When Denise Landis, recipe tester for the New York Times (among many other hats that she wears), asked me if I would like to be the first guest blogger for her e-magazine, The Cook’s Cook, I was excited, of course, falling all over myself about it, but when I stopped to think of the implications, of actually having an audience, of the responsibility… well, any ideas I had suddenly seemed ridiculous.
While I was despairing over what recipe should be the first to grace the virtual pages of The Cook’s Cook, I asked my husband to name some of his favorite meals. Without hesitation, he named this one. Inspired by thepassionatecook, I made this once and promptly printed and filed it away, somewhere, as a favorite. But I couldn’t find the recipe. I couldn’t find it online, either. Lost, I decided to turn to the three-ring binder of recipes my mother gave me when I was just starting as a cook, figuring that I’d find something just as good to make for the blog. And there was the lost recipe. Tucked securely into the last page, just like it was meant to be. Of course, I made some alterations to the recipe, but it’s just as good, if not better. So now I’ll pass it along to you. Don’t lose it!
This is a meal meant for two, so it comes with perfect timing for Valentine’s Day. At my house, we don’t subscribe to hard and fast rules concerning Valentine’s Day, but how better to show your love for someone (partner, friend, parent, sibling, pet), than by cooking for them? We shared this meal under the dogwood that is the literal and figurative heart of our property; it was under its branches that we said our wedding vows.
This recipe could be done with beef, too, but the venison is so perfect-tender, I encourage trying it.
Venison with Apple-Potato Stack and Petite Carrots in Port Reduction
For the apples:
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry white wine
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 Granny Smith apple
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 g) finely chopped onions
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1/2 cup (125 mL) port
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry red wine
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh orange juice (2-3 oranges)
2 scant teaspoons beef flavored stock concentrate (I use a vegetarian – no beef – base)
For the vegetables:
2 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch of baby/petite carrots, peeled with about 1 inch of tops left on
For the venison:
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Two 4-ounce (100 g) venison filets
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
For the apples: In a medium saucepan, combine the wine, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, and 1 cup (250 mL) water. Place over low heat to warm. Slice the apple into thin rounds (it helps to use a mandoline for this, but you can use a knife, too) and add to the saucepan, stirring a few times to warm the apples, then remove from the heat and let the apples infuse.
For the sauce: In a small frying pan, melt the butter and add the onions and thyme. Fry over medium heat until just beginning to brown and stick. Deglaze the pan with the port and wine, then pour in the orange juice and add the stock concentrate. Boil over medium heat until the sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup.
For the vegetables: Peel and cut the potatoes into approximately 1-inch pieces. Place in a steamer basket set over simmering water and allow to steam, covered, until they are very easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and return to pot; cover with a dishtowel until just warm. Mash the potatoes with a ricer or a wooden spoon – don’t overwork them. Mix in the butter and season with salt to taste (I used two good pinches). If you want, make the potatoes ahead and gently reheat in a bowl set over simmering water.
Steam the carrots like the potatoes, but only until they are tender but still crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat as they finish (some may cook faster than others) and wrap in foil to keep warm.
For the venison: Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Dry the filets thoroughly and well-season the filets with salt and pepper. When the oil is slightly smoking, add the filets. Sauté on each cut side for two minutes and then, using tongs, pick up the steak and spend another minute or two searing the rim of the cut. Adjust the cooking time according to the cut, species, and how you like your steak, keeping in mind that when an instant-read thermometer, inserted into the center of the filet, reads 130-135°F (54-57°C), it’s medium-rare. When the filet is done, remove from heat to a plate and cover with foil. Rest the meat for 15 minutes before plating.
To assemble and serve: Using a spoon, place a small dollop of potatoes on the plate you intend to serve on. Lay an apple slice on the potatoes and top with another spoonful of potatoes. Repeat, ending with potatoes on top. Serve the carrots, warm, alongside the apple-potato stack and plate the filet how you like, either whole or in slices. Warm the port reduction if it has cooled and drizzle several spoonfuls over everything. It’s delicious, so save some for dipping.