Roasted Rack of Venison - Company Fare
Updated: Feb 20
Looking for a venison recipe that’ll give a table a touch of elegance, draw an approving nod from dinner guests and is easier to prepare than it looks.
Next time you process a deer don’t bone out those backstraps. Instead, keep the loin (backstrap) attached to the ribs, shooting for an appearance like that you’d find with a rack of lamb. This takes a little extra time, but pays off in terms of presentation on the plate. The best result with this cut of meat comes with animals that are, ideally, yearlings or younger.
If you’re able to process your own deer, partially bone out the backstrap along the spinal column, but keep seven to eight ribs attached to the loin meat. Avoid cutting into the spinal column. Ribs can be kept at full length or shortened to a manageable 6-7 inches by sawing across the rib cage parallel to the loin.
To make true “Frenched chops” you would strip the meat completely from the rib before cooking. However, we often cook the roast as a rack with the rib meat left intact. Why? It’s delicious. Scrape it off after cooking and eat it. Once cooked, the rack can be cut into individual chops, or cut in half and served as an intact portion of 3-4 chops.
There’s no shortage of side dishes that match well with a roasted rack of venison. Roasted peppers, potato and vegetable casseroles, grilled winter vegetables, polenta – all good. Personally, I love a good Yukon Gold mashed potato with some baby portabellas cooked in wine. I sometimes add some sweet peas and blend them with my potatoes, the way my grandfather Walter used to do. He was on to something.
Venison French Chops and Baby Portabellas
1 tablespoon olive oil
Rack (about 8 ribs) from young tender deer
2 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning (or your favorite rub)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dry red wine
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle seasonings over rack (meat and bones) and rub lightly to coat. Pour oil into Dutch oven or oven-proof sauté pan to cover the bottom. Depending on pan size, a tablespoon or a little more of oil should work. Heat on stovetop over medium high flame and brown meat on all sides. Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar and wine. Place in oven for about 10 minutes or until slightly undercooked for your taste. We like it to end up medium rare and never more "done" than medium. Remove meat from oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Meat will continue to cook and juices will set. Slice into individual chops or serving portions.
4 or 5 Yukon gold potatoes
2 teaspoons mayonnaise (we always use Hellman’s)
2 tablespoons margarine (or butter)
Salt and pepper to taste
Clean and quarter potatoes. Cook in boiling water until soft, but not mushy, when pierced by fork. Drain and mash, adding mayonnaise and margarine. Salt and pepper to taste. If you like creamier potatoes, add a couple ounces of milk.
Optional - add a few whole garlic cloves to pan and cook with the meat. When done, mash and chop the roasted garlic and add to the potatoes.
8 ounce package of baby portabella mushrooms – available in many fine produce sections
1 good splash of red wine
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Dash of black pepper and basil
One chopped clove of garlic
In small pan, heat oil over medium heat, add mushrooms, wine and seasonings, then stir occasionally until mushrooms are thoroughly hot. Takes 4-5 minutes, tops.
A good dinner deserves a good dessert.
Brandied Baked Pears
6 firm Bosc or Bartlett pears
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup water
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon brandy
1/3 cup chilled heavy cream or a good vanilla ice cream
(a melon-ball cutter)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel and core pears. Coat them with brown sugar in a large bowl. Melt butter in a shallow baking dish in oven; add pears, turning to coat with butter. Add water to dish and bake pears, turning over occasionally, until tender and edges are caramelized, 30 to 50 minutes, depending on ripeness of pears. Transfer pears to a plate. Add the brandy to the baking dish and stir briskly with a heatproof rubber spatula, deglazing all the sugars sticking to the pan. Place warm pears in serving dishes. Scoop over ice cream or, if using whipped cream, whisk cream in a bowl until it thickens. Don’t overdo it! You can use a teaspoon of brandy to whisk into the cream for a little extra flavor up top. Drizzle warm pears with sauce and brandied cream. To get really decadent, put the cream over the ice cream.
Serve entrée with a hearty red steak wine, such as a big cabernet sauvignon that you open and let breathe for a couple hours before serving. A hearty Argentinean Malbec is also a good match. Robust reds from Virginia vintners such as Pearmund Cellars or Tarara Winery have paired well with similar quality venison dishes.