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Recipes for a Saucy Meal à Deux

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Pan-Seared Venison Loin Medallions with a Cabernet, Dried Cherry and Rosemary Reduction

From Chase Vanderveer of Winding Brook Bistro, Johnson

* 1 pound venison loin

* Olive oil

* Cracked peppercorns

* One bottle of your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon

* 8-10 ounces beef stock

* Butter

* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

* 1/2 shallot, finely chopped

* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

* 1 teaspoon thyme

* 1/3 cup dried cherries

* Salt and white pepper to taste

Cut venison loin into 4 oz. medallions, set in a bowl, and drizzle with enough olive oil to cover. Sprinkle lightly with cracked pepper and refrigerate. Pour one-half bottle of wine into a saucepan and reduce to 1/4 cup. In another saucepan, reduce stock to 1/4 cup. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, add the garlic and shallot, and sauté until soft. Stir in the rosemary and thyme. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, then add the reduced wine, stock and cherries. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat frying pan with 1 oz. olive oil until oil shimmers. Add venison medallions and sear on both sides, then place in a 375-degree oven until desired doneness is reached. (Since venison is so lean, I like to put a little butter in the pan before putting it in the oven.) Place medallions on a plate and pour cherry cabernet sauce over. Serve with potato and asparagus.

Note: Seven Days recommends that venison be consumed rare or medium rare.

*****

Américaine Sauce

From Ryan O'Malley of Elements, St. Johnsbury

This is one of my favorite recipes for one of my favorite romance foods. I call this an Américaine sauce, but my preparation strays a bit from the classic. A more proper name would be lobster reduction sauce. The idea is that one acquires a single lobster - or as many as one is willing to pony up for - and extracts as much flavor from it as possible. The outcome could be described as "the essence of lobster."

It just so happens that the intense lobster flavor may cause people to lose control.

Yield: 1 cup. Serves two.

* One 1 1/4 pound lobster

* 1 quart water

* 1 tablespoon butter

* 2 tablespoons chopped garlic

* 3 tablespoons finely diced shallot (or sweet onion)

* 3 tablespoons finely diced fennel bulb

* 2 tablespoons tomato paste

* 2 tablespoons flour

* 2 ounces brandy

* 12 ounces heavy cream

* 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

* Salt to taste

* Cracked black pepper

Kill lobster (my preferred way is a quick jab through the brain) and cut in half lengthwise. Divide the lobster into two piles, with the claws, knuckles and tail halves in one and the legs and body in another.

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a simmer (the water should be about 4 inches deep). Add the lobster claws, knuckles and tail pieces. Cook until the meat pulls easily away from the shell, about 7 minutes. Don't overcook.

Reserving the liquid, remove the lobster pieces - the liquid will be the base for the sauce. When the lobster has cooled to the touch, remove the meat and refrigerate. Reserve shells.

Crush the body and legs and the cooked shells into small pieces. Heat a 9- to 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter. Add garlic and cook until it is translucent, but not brown (called "sweating"). Add the onion and sweat, then do the same to the fennel. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the lobster shells. Sauté, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and then the flour. Add the brandy and flambé (you know . . . light it up; a long-handled lighter works well here. Beware the fireball).

Turn the heat to low and pour the reserved lobster broth into the pan, plus any juices that remain on the cutting board. Simmer for 30-60 minutes. In another pan, heat the cream and reduce by half.

Strain the lobster sauce into a bowl, then place in a clean saucepan and reduce to 1 cup. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Slowly pour the stock into the cream, return to the heat and again reduce to 1 cup. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Notes:

Salt at the end, as it's easy to overdo it.

Finishing the sauce with 2 teaspoons of finely chopped tarragon is nice.

How to use the sauce:

Breakfast: Make an omelette including the lobster meat. Serve with sauce, toast and chives.

Dinner: Pour it over cooked fettuccine topped with lobster meat. Or add the lobster meat to the sauce and serve with grilled salmon and asparagus.

Appetizer: Buttered tail meat on toast, covered with sauce that includes the remaining meat, served with a side of fried oysters!

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