Peppercorn Venison with Roquefort
This dish is from season 7 of From The Wild.
This has long been one of my favourite ways to prepare any kind of venison, and has wooed even the most conservative (fussy) eaters in my life. At the core, it’s a riff on a classic pairing of steak, black pepper, and blue cheese - an important concept to keep in mind as the dish can be quite flexible if you keep those three flavours present when you hit the (field) kitchen. This also works with beef or other red meats, but for those looking to posh-up their home venison cookery, this is especially for you. The dish is ultra-savoury, heady and fragrant, complex, and rich.
500g Venison Steak (I used a year and a half old whitetail doe in this case)
2 tbsp Black Pepper
1 Red Onion
100g Roquefort Cheese (any blue you like works)
1 cup Creamed Corn (try making it yourself!)
1/2 cup Wild Rice (recommend Untamed Feast)
Keep in mind this dish is great for cooking over a fire (as was the one in the photo). Take the venison out of the fridge, and let it start warming up - you’re trying to avoid cooking cold steak. Always. While that’s happening, get a grill or fire on, and toss your red onion into a fairly hot zone of the fire (or roast it at high heat in your oven). You’ll be looking to cook the onion through, and char the outside. We’re going to leave the creamed corn or wild rice to your imagination, as this dish really isn’t about either, and a baked or mashed potato, creamy pasta, or even a thick slab of toasted sourdough would be just as delicious. Focus here is on the steak - pepper - blue cheese.
Take your black pepper, dump it on a clean counter, and crunch it up coarsely with a cast iron pan, or any other blunt device you think will do the trick. What you’re looking for is ‘coarser than your intuition suggests is appropriate’. Cracked, not fine. Then roll your venison steak in it. Apply just enough that you think it will be a bit too much. It won’t be. Season with salt.
(tip: Venison does like a quick coat of a neutral vegetable oil (I use canola) before it hits a grill.) Return to your grill/fire, check on your onion, and put the venison the grill. Now be nice to it. We have a propensity to want to use extremely high heat to cook meats, which in this case could result in a seized up, crusty exterior, with poor doneness gradient - so go easy. Be nice to it. Cook the steak to the doneness that makes you happy. If you don’t know what that is and have a probe thermometer handy, target 140F internal. Take the meat off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes.
Plating is easy, and really, do whatever you want here. But my latest iteration saw wild rice centred, surrounded by a creamed corn, topped with the sliced venison, crumbled roquefort, and pulled red onion ‘petals’. If you have some fancy finishing salt, this is a great moment for that. Pairing suggestion: a cup of labrador tea, a glass of beaujolais, or maybe even a fat chardonnay.
You can watch me field dress the deer and cook the plate in S7 of From The Wild.