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.
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.|
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!
(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