Monday, September 7, 2015
Alright. Let’s get back in action. It’s been over a year and I, along with some others, find/found it highly unacceptable that this site became basically defunct. ‘Twas a function of many components, and among MANY things, the lack of capability to acquire FABULOUS ingredients was truly not helpful. Fortunately, cooking for me is like riding a bike, although I sometimes thought I needed to bring the training wheels back out. But I decided to rock with the Big Wheels instead…nay, rock a vintage Triumph (that’s for you Gizzo) and get myself back in the game. But enough with bikes, let’s talk food. Football season is upon us (GO GREEN), I’m in Northern Michigan, it is MAD CHILLY outside, and there was some magical, wild venison loin in the freezer. Yes, the freezer, because that’s what you do when you’re a hunter and have to process entire animals. (I’m not the hunter, but luckily for me my NEIGHBOR IS!) Also, store-bought venison generally costs a trillion dollars AND is farmed, which ain’t nobody got time for. For general cooking purposes though, this dish could probably be done with a duck breast, or even a not-too-gamey-lamb…but if you can get your hands on some deer, I highly recommend t his!
So let’s talk venison for a minute. 1) it’s delicious. 2) it generally gets a flavor combination of fruit and/or some type of sweet factor. So, naturally my mind wandered to chocolate. And naturally, chocolate thoughts led me to MOLE THOUGHTS! Mole negro to be exact. The problem with legitimate mole, though, is that it also takes nine thousand hours to make and quite frankly, is a pain in the behind, BUT it is well worth the wait. Plan of action: all of the general components of mole, but NONE of the time.
So let’s hop to it!
Mole Spiced Venison
2 venison loins
1 T brown sugar
1 T ancho chili powder
1 t dried oregano
1 t cinnamon
1 t kosher salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper
10 tomatoes, on the vine
2 T olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
2 oz dark chocolate (I used 74%)
1 t adobo sauce (from canned chipotles, more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
2 T white sesame seeds, toasted
2 T sliced almonds, toasted
Fresh oregano leaves
Fresh cilantro leaves
First step: preheat your oven to 250F (for your tomatoes!). Forewarning, the tomatoes take about an hour to cook.
This recipe makes mole flavoring look easy! It takes about 1/16th of the time. Alright, while I know that a perfect mole calls for a few different dried chiles, reconstituted, pureed (ancho, guajillo, etc.), it’s a bit unnecessary for the spice rub, and the ancho chili powder manages to get the job done! Mix together the spices in a bowl and rub the spice onto each loin. Place the loins, covered, into the fridge. When I cook, I generally like to have my meats come to room temperature but venison is SO lean, and so tiny that you wouldn’t be able to get a nice crust, while still having the protein itself come out to a nice, seared rare temp without keeping it refrigerated.
ONTO THE TOMATOES! Again. Easiest thing ever. And good for a multitude of other uses! Ready? Place tomatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven. Done. The tomatoes will be done once they start to split. If done ahead, these can be reheated as well! Set aside until ready to plate.
While the tomatoes are cooking, get started on your chocolate sauce. In a double boiler, makeshift or legitimate, get your chocolate to melting. You really don’t need much water in the bottom, just enough to ensure that it doesn’t evaporate completely! Bring the water to a boil, and place the chocolate into the top portion of your double boiler - stir until completely melted. Mix in the adobo sauce – again, you can use less than 1 T if you’re not too keen on spice, but taste as you go along. You definitely don’t want to cover up the flavor of the chocolate here! This can be made ahead of time and reheated to melt, but if you’re doing everything simultaneously, you can just lower the heat to ensure the sauce doesn’t firm up.
Onto the cooking!!! I used a cast iron pan, but if you don’t have that available and sauté pan will work out. Heat that bad boy up!!!! You’re going to want your pan hot enough that you can really get that aforementioned crust on it without overcooking the meat itself. Once your pan is SMOKIN’ hot, place those bad boys in. I cooked mine for 2 minutes a side, until that crust formed. Immediately remove from the pan, and let rest about 7 minutes or so.
While the loins are resting, get ready to plate! You don’t want to overwhelm the venison too much with the chocolate sauce. Take a basting brush and make a nice clean stroke on the bottom of your plate. It should still be thick enough that it leaves a pretty solid amount of sauce. Next, slice the venison loins – I cut mine about 1 cm thick. Again, since it is such a thin loin and quite heavily spiced, you wont want to cut it really any thicker – the rub will overwhelm the flavor of the loin itself. Sprinkle each dish with sesame seeds, almonds, cilantro, oregano, and cotija cheese and DINE AWAY!!!!
I figured this dish would be tasty, but it turned out better than expected. And it really did taste like mole!!! The flavors are pretty deep, and definitely appropriate for fall weather. It warms you up from the inside out! The “deconstruction” aspect of this dish really is what makes it shine. I love mole negro, but it is quite the heavy sauce, to say the least. This representation really allows the flavors to single themselves out and shine, yet still work together. The tomatoes bring a perfect acidity to the dish to balance out the depth of flavor that comes with the chocolate/adobo sauce, and that sweetness from the chocolate helps to balance out the spice from the rub, and the smokiness from the adobo sauce. The addition of the fresh herbs and cotija help create a nice hot/cold juxtaposition and really brighten the dish up in general. Overall a DELICIOUS dish! I shared with my hunter neighbor (from whom the venison was from) and he couldn’t stop raving about it for days. That being said, I suggest you go ahead and make this! The fact that it is SO easy really makes it unbeatable!