A couple months back I shot a couple deer in northern Michigan. Chichi wrote about us eating the heart, which was extraordinarily delicious. I saved the loins for my family's Christmas dinner, which due to various scheduling conflicts, took place last night, a good week before the actual day.
Cooking venison loin is not all that different from cooking beef loin, except that it is significantly leaner. Since fat transmits heat much slower than lean protein, in beef, it acts as an insulator. Thus the fattier the cut, the slower it cooks. Lean venison take only about two-thirds the time to cook than an equivalent-sized piece of beef.
I debated cooking this sous-vide, but in the end decided to simply use my inverse-oven technique: start it out in a low oven until it comes to within a few degrees of your desired finished temperature, then slap it into a ripping-hot skillet to sear the outside. The result is perfectly evenly cooked meat.
The spice rub gets some bitterness from coffee and a bit of heat from ancho chilis, but it's totally optional—feel free so season with just salt and pepper and serve with a simple pan sauce or garlic-parsley butter.
Note: This recipe will work equally well with a beef tenderloin.
- 2 (2 1/2 pound) venison loins
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered espresso
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 300°F. Pat venison dry with paper towels and place on rack set in rimmed backing sheet. Combine salt, pepper, ancho chili, coriander, cumni, sugar, and espresso in small bowl. Rub evenly over meat. Roast venison until center registers 120°F on an instant read thermometer for medium-rare or 130°F for medium-well. Remove from oven and set aside.
Immediately heat oil in large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Add venison and butter and cook, turning until all sides are evenly browned, about 4 minutes total. Return to rack, tent with foil, and allow to rest 15 minutes. Slice and serve.