Venison Steak Diane
A gorgeous recipe by Hank Shaw recently scrolled across my screen that looked so good that I would've tried it with beef if I didn't have a beautiful venison loin resting in my freezer from my Texas Big Game Hunting Adventure.
It started with the defrosted venison tenderloin I had cut out of our "butchery deer" myself. I'm holding it here:
As a reminder, this deer was one of about 20 which our landowner/host was required to cull by the conservation experts at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in order to keep the local ecosystem in check.
If you need a refresher course on how important it is to keep deer numbers in check, watch this amazing film.
Do you ever wonder where the name, "Steak Diane" comes from? Apparently it comes from Diana, the Greco-Roman goddess of the hunt, and this very recipe was intended to be used with game meat such as venison, not beef as has become so popular over the past few decades.
Let's get to it!
Venison tenderloin, 1/2 lb. or more (you're going to eyeball the cooking anyway)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Cup brandy (shown below poured into the 1/3 Cup container - I needed the 1/4 C for cream)
1/2 Cup beef broth
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon mustard
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 Cup heavy cream
Minced chives for garnish (or basil, parsley, etc.)
Salt the venison loin and bring it to room temperature, apx. 20 min.
Heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat for about 90 seconds. Pat the venison dry with a paper towel and cook it on all sides. Also, if yours is split roughly down the middle or more (so tender!), DON'T DO WHAT I DID and use your tongs like a ninja to keep it held together. Learn from my mistake - tie up your beautiful loin with butcher's twine and don't give holding it together another thought!
PS: I am sure that I was drinking when I cooked this (this was Christmas Night dinner, so YES I had been drinking), so that is my excuse for not tying it up beforehand.
Turn the heat to medium so the butter doesn’t scorch - it takes about 8-10 minutes to get a nice brown crust on the venison without overcooking the center. Remove the venison, tent loosely with foil and set aside.
It will hopefully look a little like this (but neater because you tied yours up):
Add the shallots to the pan and cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Don’t let the garlic burn.
Deglaze the pan with the brandy, scraping off any stuck-on bits in the pan with a wooden spoon.
Let the brandy cook down almost to a glaze, then add the venison stock, tomato paste, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Let this boil down until a wooden spoon dragged across the pan leaves a trail behind it that does not fill in for a second or two. This should take about 3 minutes on high heat.
Turn off the heat and let the boiling subside. Stir in the cream until the sauce is as light as you like. Don’t let the sauce boil again or it could break. Have you ever eaten a sauce that has broken? It's worse than a plate full of broken hearts!
Warning: sauce is very delicious. You may try to drink it but DON'T, you need it for the meat to go swimming.
Slice the venison into thick medallions. If you find you have not cooked it enough, let the meat swim in the sauce for a few moments to heat through.
I can't tell you how good this was!
If the venison is cooked to your liking, pour some sauce on a plate and top with the meat, or put down a gentle bed of mashed potatoes first, then the meat, then bathe it all in the sauce. I served with roasted carrots for a pop of color and a bit of sweetness to complement the savory sauce.
Garnish with some chopped herbs. Apparently chives is traditional, but you can substitute basil or parsley. We served with a favorite red - a Meiomi Pinot Noir.