venison; quince chutney; camote chipotle gratin; lacinato


with no hint of the richness of the entrée, a light cabbage sauté


(‘butter’ still melting) the empty space in the middle? reserved for quince chutney


..and here it is (I had taken the second picture before serving the chutney)


tiny cheese, big toast, but the toast was very thin


we decided to call pecan pie a Venezuelan desert (inside joke)


Thanksgiving with venison.

The bad part: no leftovers; the good part: no leftovers.

I had no interest in serving a turkey, and there were to be only 4 people at the table this year. Besides, turkey is hard, and it would have meant I couldn’t oversleep on one of my favorite holidays.

We had venison; it was the best venison I have ever cooked.

We both love game, and Ottomanelli’s had some thick New Zealand venison chops when I visited the shop last week. These rich cuts are at least as simple to prepare as a steak, and everybody thinks they can cook a steak, and they’re right. My now-favorite approach for venison chops is to season them well, give them a quick searing on each side, then about 5 minutes in the oven, no turning required, followed by a few minutes rest on warm plates before serving.

The simplest of recipes does invite a little tweaking however. It could be as simple as deglazing the pan with spirits or putting together a composed butter to spread on the top of the cooked meat. I went for the latter this time, a blue cheese-fennel butter.

The long, informal little dinner party began with a toast.

The sitting part part began with cabbage, almost a salad, but warm and savory.


love cutting cabbage; think it’s about the texture and the simple movement


  • inside a large enameled cast iron pot, one chopped garlic clove from Stokes Farm, sautéed in a tablespoon of olive oil only until golden, followed by less than 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, 6 crushed juniper berries, and roughly half of a pound of a ‘conehead’ cabbage (also known as ‘caraflex’ or ‘arrowhead’ cabbage) from Norwich Meadows Farm, very finely sliced, after the triangular core had been removed, sliced thinly and set aside, the cabbage seasoned with salt and pepper, the heat raised, the mix fried for about one minute, stirring, then arranged on plates, the reserved core triangles arranged on top (I’ve used the basic recipe a number of times as an appetizer when we have guests, a favorite with cook and guests for its convenience and its deliciousness, respectively; it’s from ‘Healthy Italian Cooking‘, by Emanuella Stucchi, a small ‘stealth’ vegetarian tome I had been using it for years before I realized there was no meat or fish in any of the recipes
  • slices of a whole wheat sourdough miche from Bread Alone, in the Greenmarket
  • the wine was an Oregon (Rogue Valley) white, Foris Vineyards Rogue Valley Gewürztraminer Oregon 2014

The entrée included the venison chops finished with a gorgonzola-fennel seed butter, a quince and cherry chutney, a spicy-smoky sweet potato gratin, and a sweet ’embossed’ leafy vegetable.

  • four thick loin chops (6- 7 ounces each), New Zealand farmed venison, via O. Ottomanelli & Sons, on Bleecker Street, brought to room temperature, generously seasoned on both sides, seared in a little olive oil and butter inside an enameled cast iron pan, placed in a 425º oven for about 5 or 6 minutes, removed, and allowed to rest, a tablespoon or so of a composed butter placed on top while they were still warm (the butter was some softened ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘ flavored with a small amount of toasted and crushed dried fennel seed; a few drops of Worcestershire sauce; salt; pepper; a couple ounces of Gorgonzola Casarrigoni from Whole Foods; and a sprinkling of crushed dried, very dark, heatless habanada peppers, rolled into a ‘log’ one inch in diameter, and refrigerated until needed)
  • quince chutney, made following this recipe, using a shallot from Keith’s Farm, a garlic clove from Stokes Farm, quince from Red Jacket Orchards, dried sweet cherries from Whole Foods, fresh ginger from Lani’s Farm, apple cider from Locust Grove Fruit Farm (the recipe asked for apple cider vinegar, and I do have a bottle of the local stuff, from Race Farm, but I misread the instruction and the dish still turned out more than fine)
  • two pounds of Japanese sweet potatoes from Lani’s Farm, sliced thinly, seasoned with salt and pepper, arranged in 4 layers separated by portions of 2 cups of heavy cream that had been mixed in a blender with one chipotle pepper and a small amount of adobo sauce (the layers beginning with the potatoes), inside a 8″x12″ glazed ceramic casserole dish, baked inside a 350º oven for about one hour, or until the cream had been absorbed and the potatoes browned, finished on the plates with a scattering of micro radish from Windfall Farms (the gratin recipe, one I’ve used many times, is from ‘Bobby Flay’s Bold American Food‘, where, minus the micro radish, it appears as ‘Sweet Potato Gratin with Smoked Chiles’)
  • about half of a pound of small tender leaves of cavolo nero (also known as lacinata, black kale, or Tuscan kale) from Tamarack Hollow Farm, briefly wilted with olive oil and 4 halved garlic cloves from Stokes Farm, the garlic first heated in the oil until they became pungent
  • the wines were a California (Calaveras) red, F. Stephen Millier Black Label Red Angel Red Blend Calaveras County 2014 from Naked Wines; and an Italian (Sicily) red, Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2014

There was a cheese course.

  • four different cheeses, ‘Bigelow’ goat cheese from Ardith Mae; Consider Bardwell’s ‘Reconsider’, which is a one-time event: a cow cheese finished in the ‘Manchester’ goat cheese cave; Consider Bardwell’s ‘Dorset’ cow cheese; and an untitled Consider Bardwell blue goat cheese
  • thin toasts of a fantastic ‘8 Grain 3 Seed’ bread from Rock Hill Bakery, Gansevoort, NY (the ingredients are: ‘unbleached, unbromated wheat flour, water, organically grown whole wheat flour, honey, corn grits, millet, oats, cracked barley, cracked rye, cracked wheat, flax seeds, brown rice flour, sunflower seeds, buckwheat flour, pops seeds, salt’), made on my ‘Camp-A-Toaster’ [see this post]

There was a sweet (well, another sweet).

  • a magnificent pecan pie, from Le Pain Quotidien, the gift of our guests, beside a scoop of Ciao Bella ‘Madagascar Vanilla’ gelato frm Whole Foods, served on glass chargers requisitioned for functional service the first time ever.

We topped the evening with neat sips of a very good Venezuelan rum, Roble Viejo Ron Extra Añejo, also from our guests.

  • the music was entirely from the Americas [Renaldo Hahn was born in Venezuela], drawn from a Spotify playlist assembled by Barry for the afternoon and evening (we enjoyed slow food dinner and conversation for 8 hours)