Friday, March 25, 2011

The Other Red Meat: Venison

1. We live in the country
2. My husband likes to hunt

A lot of people in the South depend on the deer meat our hunters bring home to help keep grocery costs down throughout the year. Many folks think venison is too gamey tasting. I think this recipe/technique will change some minds...

I don't have a name for it. I'm so sorry - I really tried to think something up, but couldn't come up with anything other than "Venison Nuggets", or "Bambi Bites", or "Sauteed Venison Loin Cubes with Peppers and Onions". The first two are ridiculous, the third one is too long and snooty. Feel free to name this recipe for me in the comments section.

One of the best ways to help remove some of the gaminess of the meat is to soak it in watered down milk overnight, or at least a couple of hours. This helps draw out the blood and mellow the flavor. I used the backstrap for this recipe, which is kind of like a tenderloin cut. This was an improv recipe, so measurements aren't precise. You could use any meat for this. It's just a quick, non-Asian stir fry, really.

Remove any tendons and/or  silverskin from the backstrap/tenderloin (which has been soaked, if desired) and cut it into bite size cubes. Toss with a generous sprinkle of steak seasoning and lemon pepper. Let stand while you slice up the veggies

I had some button mushrooms, half of a Poblano pepper, and half of a white onion hanging out in the fridge, so that's what I used. (Poblanos have a little heat - sort of a happy medium between a bell pepper and a mild jalapeno. You can find them amongst the other peppers at any grocery store these days. We love them out here at Ogle Acres!)

Not as old as she looks...
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. lightly film the bottom with oil. When it's near the smoking point, toss in the meat and cook to medium  rare. Keep it moving around so it doesn't burn or overcook.You really want the pan screaming hot.

Remove the meat to a bowl and add the veggies, cook until tender and lightly charred.

they will pick up the crusty bits and flavor from the meat, so there's really no need to season them with anything more than a little salt.

Toss together the meat and veggies and serve with pretty much ANYTHING. Pile on top of mashed potatoes or rice, buttered egg noodles, or do what I did:

Make an epic salad with mixed greens, scallions, cucumber, blue cheese dressing and blue cheese crumbles. Blue cheese is really fantastic with red meat. That flavor combo just really brings me joy...

If you don't have venison in your freezer, feel free to use beef in this dish. Since it's cooked to medium rare you can use a cheaper cut. The flavors would also work with chicken. It's a tasty, fast, weeknight treat. 

Not Just Any Orange

The Queen of Citrus- Blood Orange
As far as I'm concerned, this is the best thing to ever happen to the world of oranges. I can only find them in stores in February and March, and was shocked to see them here in little old Walterboro!

The flavor is very sweet, floral, and almost honey-like. And the smell, oh, the smell! I would love to just rub the zest behind my ears.

When looking for them in stores, look for an orange rind with a deep red blush to it. When you cut into it the flesh should be fragrant and look, well, blood red. Hence the name.

Apparently I have sausage fingers when juicing...
The juice makes for a FANTASTIC mimosa. Use it anywhere that regular orange juice is called for  for more depth of flavor. Segmented out it's great on salads with grilled chicken.  Treat my favorite orange just as you would any other. But with more respect and adoration, of course, for she is royalty.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fancy-Pants: Early Spring Omelette

I don't make breakfast quite often enough for you people. I don't know why, either - I tend to eat pretty fun stuff in the morning. Or a cold pork chop - you know, whatever's handy.

I love omelettes: they are quick and delicious, although not always easy. Jacques Pepin (a card-carrying master chef and friend of Julia) says he judges the skill of a chef by how he makes an omelette. Don't be scared of that though, because YOUR omelette doesn't have to be perfect. It should just be delicious! This VIDEO featuring the adorable Jaime Oliver is a quick lesson in omelette technique- he gives you a basic how-to in under 5 minutes.

I called this an "Early Spring" omelette because 1. It's the end of February, ergo: early spring here. 2. The produce involved is what's growing at my house right now. And hanging out in the fridge. Whatever - just go with it...

The spinach is growing in a pot on my porch, I planted it back in December. The cute, trendy, and possibly pretentious microgreens are merely the result of thinning out the salad greens that have sprouted up in a pot in my greenhouse. I think you can buy them, but they are stupid expensive because they are trendy and pretentious, so just leave them out if you don't have a crop to thin. They add nice flavor but aren't essential. (To be honest, I only added them at the end because my omelette was ugly, and they dressed it up.) Also, I went with sun-dried tomatoes because in February, there is no such thing as a truly fresh tomato.

On with the show!

Early Spring Omelet (for one)

2 eggs, as fresh as humanly possible (or chickenly possible?)

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons sour cream

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (oil packed- you will need 1 tablespoon of the oil as well)

1 Tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled. (or feta, or monterey jack- whatever floats your boat)

A handful of microgreens (completely optional)

Have all your ingredients ready, because this comes together quickly!

Beat together the eggs, milk, sour cream, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat a small (7-8inch) NONSTICK skillet over medium high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Toss in the spinach and tomatoes and saute till the spinach is just wilted. Transfer to a small bowl and pour the eggs into the skillet (there should be enough residual oil in the pan to cook the eggs in).

I have such a crush on eggs...mmmm...eggy goodness...
Now here's where watching that video I linked to earlier will have come in handy, because it's a lot easier to watch and copy than to try and explain in writing. I prefer the french technique because it results in a fluffier omelette. It involves stirring the eggs and shaking the pan violently and waking up everyone in the house with all the racket you're making, until the eggs are almost set. However, you can also gently move them around as the adorable Jamie Oliver does.

When the eggs are about half-cooked (still fairly moist, definitely not scrambled), add the spinach, tomatoes, and cheese.

Slightly off center. On purpose.
Now here's the hard part- rolling this puppy up. Yesterday it went really well and came out beautifully. Today was a bit more challenging (hence the microgreens). You're going to loosen very carefully the edges with a fork, and very carefully slide a spatula under the edge opposite the handle, and very carefully (but like you mean it) do a sort of jerking motion with the pan while flipping the free edge over the filling. And that was the longest sentence in recipe-writing history.

At this point the bulk of the omelette should be on the side of the pan closest to the handle. Slide it to the opposite side, and roll it onto a plate.

Many things can go wrong here, and that's OK. You can tuck loose edges under, wipe the plate clean, and do what I did because the darn thing cracked open when it rolled on to the plate:

Nobody needs to know that this was a train wreck seconds before the picture was taken.
I took advantage of the crack in the top and turned it into a fancy slit, which says "Peekaboo! There's tasty goodness hiding in here!" Then topped it with some microgreens that say "Ho ho! Look how fancy and delicious I am!"

Now, once you have mastered the omelette, your options are limitless. Stuff these babies with ANYHTING (although I wouldn't go over 3 items inside). Fix it plain. Serve it with a salad and a glass of wine for lunch or dinner. There's something really classy and special about it, even though its such simple food.

Try it now! Anytime can be omelette time!