It was a holiday.
And there was game. Although venison is hardly what comes to mind on the day when the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. is especially abroad in the land, last night we celebrated the birthday of the great man partly with this very good meal.
It was especially good, especially on an extremely cold day.
- one venison steak (1.26 lbs/20 ounces) from Schaller & Weber, rinsed, brought to room temperature, dried, rubbed with olive oil and a very generous coating of freshly-cracked black peppercorns, set aside on the counter for more than 45 minutes, then placed over moderately high heat in 1 to 2 tablespoons of a combination of butter and olive oil inside a heavy oval 11-inch enameled cast iron pan, cooked rare to medium rare, which meant little more than 2 minutes on one side, or until juices had begun accumulating on the top, turned and cooked for another 2 minutes, cut into 2 pieces and transferred to warm plates, the bottom of the pan scraped with a wooden spatula to collect the juices, 2 tablespoons of a decent brandy (Courvoisier V.O. last night) added to the pan and cooked over high heat briefly, or until almost a syrup, the sauce poured over the meat, which was then garnished with thyme
- thirteen ounces of ruby crescent potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, halved lengthwise, tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, the leaves from some stems of rosemary from Whole Foods Market, and a small amount of crushed golden home-dried habanada pepper, arranged cut side down on a medium Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan, with half of a fresh sage leaf from Chelsea Whole Foods Market perched on the top of each, roasted at about 400º for about 20 minutes
- a little duck fat heated above a medium-high flame inside a large antique high-sided copper pot, adding one finely-sliced 17-ounce red cabbage from Race Farm and several small roughly-chopped ‘yellow shallots’ from Norwich Meadows Farm, stirring regularly until the cabbage had softened slightly (about 15 minutes), after that 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, less than 2 tablespoons of whole Foods Market lemon juice, and almost 2 teaspoons of local apple cider vinegar, also from Race Farm, were added, plus a sprinkling of freshly-ground black pepper, the heat reduced and the mixture cooked about 10 minutes more, or until the cabbage was wilted and the shallots softened, a teaspoon of turbinado sugar and a third of a cup of some excellent juicy mixed raisons from Chelsea Trader Joe’s added and mixed in, finished by stirring in some red current jelly
The cheese was German, picked to complement both the entrée and the weather. Tilsit is one of my favorite German cheeses, with a complicated history of its own, reflecting at least some of the vicissitudes of its birthplace.
- bits of a really good German Tilsit cheese from Schaller & Weber
- thin slices of a She Wolf Bakery miche
- the wine throughout the meal was an Italian (Piedmont) red, Castello di Verduno, Barolo ‘Massara’ 2013, from Flatiron Wines
- the choice of music was the only overt link to the holiday, an album from Naxos Direct, of music by a remarkable African-American composer who had almost disappeared before a collection of her works and papers were discovered in an abandoned and dilapidated house that had once been her summer home, Florence Beatrice Price, ‘Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4’