Roasted Rack of Venison in Cider Sauce… and the Failed Deer Hunt

As I reported in a previous post, I went deer hunting earlier this month. While somebody who actually knows what he’s doing was driving the hunt, I was hiding in tree stands or blinds like this one, observing my little patch of forest.

Believe me, after 4 hours spent sitting in a tent without moving, in the Catskills Mountains in winter, no matter how well dressed you are, you get pretty cold! My toes were in a state comparable to what I felt last year when I went swimming in Brighton Beach in mid-December.

Sadly, despite all the efforts of Huntsman Hank. I spotted only a couple of deer in two days and didn’t have a good enough shot to kill any of them. The regular deer season in the Southern zone lasted from November 20th to December 12th , so it’s too late for me to give it another try this year. Hank recommended I come back next year for the opening weekend, which I’ll probably do. Meanwhile, one more year of imported New Zealand venison…

I decided to take my revenge by ordering a rack of venison, which I prepared with a cider sauce and paired with some pan-seared foie gras and blood sausage on a potato pancake. I often make my own blood sausage, but this one I found at a Christmas Bazaar organized by the New York Estonian House. If you want to learn more about blood-sausage making, check out this article from the New York times, or try the class at the Estonian House in early December next year.

Cider sauce
Yields 4 servings

2 oz shallots, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 oz pancetta, small dice
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 thyme sprigs
2 cups veal (or game) stock
6 oz hard cider
1/2 oz butter

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the shallots and garlic with olive oil until soft. Add the pancetta and the mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  • Add the thyme and stock, and reduce to about 1/4.
  • Add the hard cider, and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  • Stir in the butter just before serving.

Rack of venison
Yields 4 servings

1 rack of venison consisting of 8 chops, cut in half
black pepper, ground
canola oil
2 thyme sprigs, stems removed

  • Season the rack with salt and pepper on all sides. Sauté with canola oil in a very hot pan until brown on all sides.
  • Transfer to an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with thyme, and cook in a 300 F oven to the desired doneness. Count about 35 minutes for rare.
  • Let rest in a warm place for 5-10 minutes. Cut the racks into 8 separate chops, and serve with the sauce.