Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tartare To Die For

Several years back, my once hippie brother-in-law began hunting my in-laws 500 acre farm up north. What began casually for him has turned into an obsessive dance. Deer hunting was the gateway drug. He now bow hunts, stalks deer with a muzzle loader, and has developed a strong addiction to fly fishing. He's dragged his family all over North America in search of the perfect rack and trout that he doesn't eat. Yeah, I don't get that part either, but he assures me that most respectable fly fishermen don't eat their catch.

Over a couple of Wild Turkeys one late night at the farm, I told him that I would love a chance to practice my butchery skills on a couple of his kills in preparation for purchasing a whole hog and lamb (still haven't gotten there yet but I'm close). After fumbling through the first two, I've gotten pretty damn good at the process. My wife is also incredibly supportive. When I get the call that a kill has been made, and brought back to our processing facility (usually his heavily tarped garage) I'm quickly released of my fatherly duties, pack up my knives, and jump in the car.

One of the best parts of being the resident butcher is that he lets me process the way I want; Frenched Chops, tied roasts, never frozen tenderloin, venison sausage, etc. And if the season is good to him, he usually gives me a deer for my freezer.

This last Thanksgiving was the opening of rifle season in Wisconsin and my B-I-L brought in two doe. Since there was a number of family in attendance at the weekend's festivities, cuts were wrapped and prepped for delivery to the plate ASAP (see earlier post for the John Besh venison shoulder recipe). We prepared and ate a fair number of chops.
But one of the best things that we did was to take a couple of small pieces of tenderloin, age them in a bag for a day or so, and make some of the freshest tartare that I've ever had. Spiked with a splash of sherry, a bit of minced shallot, some fresh thyme, salt and pepper, we kept it simple and the results were spectacular. In no time the plate was licked clean.
I would have worked a little harder on the presentation and possibly even the photo, but hungry cocktail laden family members were approaching like zombies through the fog. I had to get out of the way. I nearly lost my drink.

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