If you guys remember, a while back I participated in a contest that Marx Foods put on using Silver Fern Farms Merino Lamb. The lamb was amazing, and the contest was so much fun to be a part of…even more fun since I won! (You can find those recipes here)
I’m a big fan of Marx Foods since it’s their model to provide only the finest sourced ingredients for curious and adventurous eaters. I love their meat selection especially, since I’m drawn to anything that’s outside the box and therefore less likely to be produced with conventional factory farming practices.
So when I heard they were holding another contest that involved this gorgeous Cervena venison, I was all in.
I’ve had the pleasure of cooking with venison only once or twice before– since you usually can only get your hands on some if you hunt, or in my case, know a generous hunter.
Lots of folks are afraid of the gamy flavor venison and other game meats can have, but I don’t happen to be one of those folks.
This rack of venison that Marx Foods sent my way actually comes from Silver Fern Farms in New Zealand, where the deer are raised on open pastures and have a milder, less robust “game” flavor than wild venison that you may have had before.
The meat is tender, with a beautiful color that is darker than beef or other red meat. It pairs perfectly with rustic winter flavors, so I decided to team it up with a few roasted brussels sprouts, and my new favorite side dish of the season– this parsnip and apple puree.
If you’ve never tried parsnips before, this is your perfect gateway recipe. It’s creamy, and sweet with just a whisper of anise, and its warm, pillowy peaks create the ideal spot for a lagoon of melted butter.
There are a few unexpected flavors that really make venison sing. One of them is coffee. Both being earthy, full-bodied, and robust on their own, together the two make magic. I cut my rack of venison into individual chops so that I could get more surface area, and then I rubbed a mixture of coffee, coconut sugar, salt, and black pepper all over those guys. When you smack them onto a hot cast iron pan, the coconut sugar sort of caramelizes and the coffee releases its rich aroma.
It doesn’t overpower the venison. Like a good marriage, they each hold their own while making the other one better.
And when you run a piece of that coffee rubbed meat through that creamy parsnip apple puree? It’s like seeing a painting that you just can’t look away from. You don’t know exactly how those elements managed to come together, but you just don’t question it.
As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this Cervena venison from Marx Foods. You can find my second recipe, Seared Venison Medallions with Horseradish Cream and Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes here.
- 1.5 lb venison bone in rack of ribs
- 2 tbs ground coffee
- 1 tbs coconut sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- black pepper
- bacon grease, lard, or coconut oil
- 3-4 parsnips
- 1 large apple, or 2 small (I used Gala)
- 1/2 cups 1/2 and 1/2 or milk of your choice
- 2 cup broth
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
- 1 tbs butter
- 1/2 pound brussels sprouts
- coconut oil for roasting
- salt and pepper
- Remove any silverskin from rack of ribs and cut into individual chops.
- Combine ground coffee, coconut sugar, salt, and pepper. Rub mix over chops, coating all sides of the meat. Refrigerate and allow to marinate with the rub for 1-8 hours. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature as you begin to prepare the meal.
- Peel parsnips and cut into small pieces. Peel and core apples, slicing into small pieces. Add to a medium sized pot and cover with 2 cups of broth. Add thyme and bring to a boil, reducing heat, and allowing to simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.
- While parsnips and apples cook, preheat an oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut ends off of brussels sprouts and cut each sprout in half. Distribute in one even layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil. Salt and pepper, toss to coat, and roast for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove apples and parsnips from heat and strain, reserving the liquid*. Remove sprig of thyme if using fresh thyme. Add apples and parsnips to a food processor along with 1/2 and 1/2, salt, pepper, and butter. Pulse until smooth. Reserve.
- Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat. Add bacon grease and sear each venison chop for 1 minute on each side. Transfer to the hot oven and continue to cook for 6-8 minutes.
- Remove brussels sprouts and venison from the oven, transfer chops to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5-7 minutes, covered with foil. Divide the chops between 2 plates and serve with parsnip puree and brussels sprouts.
*I reserve the broth and use another time, like to make a pureed potato soup.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.