October 24, 2010

Venison Wellington

October 1, sunrise: Sixty seconds into deer season this year, our friend Carl shot a doe with a bow & arrow.

 This is NOT the deer Carl shot this year. I snagged this from his Facebook page. Being a deer hunter, duck hunter, & fisherman, he has A LOT of dead animal pics on there.

Before I was with Jerad, I thought hunting was pretty brutal. Plus, I didn't like eating venison at all. But, I've accepted hunting...I've even watched a deer being dressed & numerous birds (ducks, geese, doves) being cleaned. It wasn't nearly as gross as I'd expected. I've also discovered that venison, particularly the backstrap, is tender & tasty. It is so similar to beef that it's hard to tell the difference when you're eating a good cut, especially meat from a two- to three-year-old doe.

A "backstrap" is essentially the same cut as filet mignon; it's a muscle from the lower back that runs along the spine. It looks like beef--bright red & lean--smells like beef, and tastes like beef. You cook it exactly as you would a whole filet.

from Askthemeatman.com

Carl graciously gave us one of the backstraps from his doe for my birthday. Since the deer muscle is smaller than that of a cow, I decided it was the perfect thing to use for Wellington, a recipe I'd been wanting to make for a while.

This IS the doe that Carl killed & shared with us earlier this month. His son Huck approves.
Apparently, there are two versions of Wellington. The French version (filet de bœuf en croûte) includes foie gras, while the British version calls for Parma ham (aka prosciutto). In both recipes, the tenderloin is covered with a mushroom duxelle, wrapped in puff pastry, & baked.

Some recipes say to sear the tenderloin to seal in juices. I was afraid of over-cooking our meat, since it was such a small loin. So, I just covered it in a mixture of finely-chopped mushrooms & pâté before wrapping it in the pastry. The meat ended up perfectly cooked, but the pastry got soggy on the bottom. I think that searing would have prevented so much juice from leaking out.

Overall, though, I was pretty impressed with how easy Wellington is to make and how good it turned out. It was pretty to look at as well!

Venison Wellington 
(filet de venaison en croûte)
adapted from Epicurious

1 whole venison tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin, at room temperature
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, finely chopped in a food processor
Kosher salt & freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 pound pâté de foie gras, at room temperature
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water
  • In a non-stick skillet cook the mushrooms over moderately low heat, stirring, until all the liquid they give off is evaporated and the mixture is dry, season them with salt & pepper, and let them cool completely. 
  • Meanwhile, roll out the puff pastry dough on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. You want it large enough to completely encapsulate the tenderloin.
  • Mix the cooled mushrooms with the pate & thyme. Spread1/3 of the mixture down the middle of the puff pastry. Place the tenderloin on top of the mushrooms. Then, spread the rest of the mixture evenly over the tenderloin, covering the top and sides. 

  • Fold up the long sides of the dough to enclose the fillet, brushing the edges of the dough with some of the egg wash to seal them. Fold ends of the dough over the fillet and seal them as well. Brush the pastry all over with the egg wash; this will ensure a shiny, brown exterior. Cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  • Bake the fillet in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°, and bake the fillet for 5 to 10 minutes more...until the meat thermometer registers 130°F for medium-rare meat & the pastry is nicely browned. Let the fillet stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

1 comment:

john skorupa said...

I found your Venison Wellington recipe and decided to follow as close as possible. Minus a few ingredients i didn't have,the dish came out ten times better than i could have imagined. Thanks for sharing better recipes for game meat. I'm so tired of recipes calling for dried soup mixes in game recipes. thanks again, John Skorupa, Bensenville, Il.