Wild Venison Osso Bucco with Italian Farro

Thick cuts of wild Texas fallow deer hind shank are marinated overnight in a mixture of Lambrusco, juniper berries, fresh rosemary, garlic, cracked pepper and bay.  The next day, the meat is salted and air-dried before being browned in olive oil in a Dutch oven.

Caramelized onions, chopped Roma tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, homemade stock and reduced marinade are added to the pot and gently simmered until the meat is tender (about 1-1/2 hours).

The meat is removed from the pot and allowed to rest while the cooking liquid is reduced and thickened.  The osso bucco (Italian for “bone with a hole”) is added back to the pot just long enough to heat through, then plated atop Italian farro, dressed with sauce and served..

Venison Osso Bucco with Italian Farro

“Fallow deer originated in ancient Persia. Native to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, they have spread throughout the European continent and to the British Isles. In recent times, they have been introduced into New Zealand, Australia, and the North America where they have become one of the favored species for domestication and deer farming.

There are several thousand fallow deer here in Texas on deer farms, and many thousands more ranging wild on Texas ranches. Farmed fallow have a very mild flavor. Free-range fallow have a more natural venison flavor but are not as readily available. We harvest free-ranging fallow deer.

The fallow deer is about 5 feet long and weighs about 120 to 150 pounds. It is the only deer sporting a wide variety of colors – From solid dark brown (chocolate) to solid white, with over 40 variations in between. Many fallow deer have spotted coats of various colors.

The antlers are also unique. They are often quite large and have flattened spade-like ends. Fallow deer are primarily grazers, preferring grass and forbs, but may also eat twigs and evergreen needles in winter. One particularly interesting phenomenon is an “addiction” that a few fallow deer in Texas exhibit to the consumption of prickly pear cactus. Even when other food is readily available, some fallow deer eat prickly pear cactus and often succumb to massive ingestion of the cactus needles.

Fallow venison is highly valued for its tender texture and beef-like flavor.”  –Broken Arrow Ranch

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Seared Duck Liver with Crispy-Fried Shallots, Porcini and Armagnac-Verjus Demi

Fresh duck liver is seasoned simply with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then seared over high heat with a bit of clarified butter.  The pan is deglazed with Armagnac then reduced with duck stock, verjus and demi-glace. Served over wilted spinach with crispy-fried shallots, porcini mushrooms and a garlic croûton.

Although high in cholesterol, duck liver is low-fat, low-calorie and extraordinarily high in Vitamins A and B12.  It is also a very good source of protein and iron..

Seared Duck Liver with Wilted Spinach, Crispy-Fried Porcini, Shallots and Armagnac-Verjus Demi

Verjuice (from Middle French vertjus “green juice”) is a very acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes. Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze preparations.

Picking green grapes for making verjuice. Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474). Paris Bibliothèque nationale

Pan-Roasted Quail with Wild Rice Stuffing and Blackberry Jus Lie

Semi-boneless quail seasoned with sea salt and smoked pepper and stuffed with wild rice, pecans, scallions and porcini mushrooms.  Served with blackberry jus lié.

I wish the plate presentation were better, but I was scrambling like mad before losing the light.  Oh, well..


Pan-Roasted Quail with Wild Rice Stuffing and Blackberry Jus Lie

Serves two

For the Rice

1 cup wild rice
chicken stock instead of water, in the quantity specified on the rice package
2 whole porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 chopped pecans
1 clove garlic, minced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
sea salt and black pepper

Cook the rice and set aside to cool.  Sauté mushrooms, pecans, garlic, scallions and sage until the pecans are golden brown then stir into the cooled rice.  Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

For the Quail

4 semi-boneless quail
2 tablespoons pastured butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon poivron rouge
sea salt and smoked blacked pepper

Rinse and pat dry the quail.  Tuck the wing tips.  Use a teaspoon or your fingers to stuff in as much rice as the bird will comfortably hold.

Transfer the birds to a skillet.  Mix together the melted butter and paprika and use that to paint the birds with.  Place in a 375 degree oven until golden brown and the juices run clear, about 18 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil.

For the Jus Lié

2 pieces uncured, applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup blackberries
2 oz port
2 tablespoons glace de poulet
2 tablespoons filtered water

Sauté bacon and shallots in a tablespoon of the drippings from the pan that the quail was roasted in.  Once the bacon is crisp, de-glaze the pan with port and add the blackberries.  Stir and cook until the berries begin to break apart, then add demi-glace and water.  Cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then strain or not, as you see fit.

To Serve

Split quail in half lengthwise and spoon sauce over the top.  Serve immediately.

Torta di Maccheroni

Today’s goal was to use up some odds and ends to make a frugal, but tasty and nourishing dish.  The result was an Italian style baked macaroni and cheese, torta di maccheroni..

For 2 servings

1 1/2 cups grated cheeses
1 1/2 cups quinoa or spelt macaroni
2 small cipolline onions (substitute yellow onion), sliced
1/4 cup dried wild porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated and chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pastured egg yolk
1 cup fresh whole milk
1/2 cup fresh cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 oz dry white wine
Italian parsley

1 or 2 small, ripe tomatoes, quartered
Fresh basil (optional)
Sprouted crackers, crushed (optional)
Pastured butter

Warm the milk and cream together in a small pan over medium low heat until it begins to form a skin over the top.  Do not let it boil.

Meanwhile, boil and drain macaroni according to package instructions.  Set aside.

Whisk cheese into hot milk a little at a time, until melted and smooth.  The resulting sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Add the garlic, onions, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, stir and turn off heat.

Once the cheese sauce has cooled a bit, whisk in 1 large egg yolk and a tablespoon of chopped parsley.

Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce, then put into a buttered dish.

Sprinkle a little more cheese over the top, drizzle with white wine and garnish with quartered tomatoes and crushed crackers, if using.

Bake in a 400 degree until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

This post is part of the Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet

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