peppered venison, brandy; roasted turnips; red cabbage

This was at least the third dinner of venison we’ve enjoyed this winter, and preparing it this time was even easier than usual because of some leftovers and a very easy-going root vegetable purchased in the Greenmarket over a month before.

  • eight ounces of a D’Artagnan New Zealand venison ‘shortloin’, from Frank at O. Ottomanelli & Sons, that had been cut from the larger piece which we had enjoyed one month before, dried, rubbed with olive oil and a very generous coating of freshly-cracked black peppercorns, set aside for more than half an hour, after which it was placed over moderately high heat in 1 to 2 tablespoons of a combination of butter and olive oil inside an oval 11-inch enameled cast iron pan, cooked barely medium rare, which meant about 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 brandy (Courvoisier V.O., as it happened) added to the pan and cooked over high heat until very much reduced [this time almost immediately!] before the sauce was poured over the meat, which was then garnished with chopped parsley from Eataly
  • seven purple-topped turnips from Alewife Farm, washed, scrubbed, peeled, cut into half-inch-thick slices, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary leaves from Hoeffner Farms, roasted in a large unglazed Pampered Chef ceramic pan for about 30 minutes at 425º, or until tender and beginning to carbonize, one green section of a baby leek from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, sliced in half-inch segments, added half-way through, and, once removed from the oven, the sprouting light ‘greens’ that had been trimmed from the roots, slightly wilted, added to the vegetables, which were then arranged on plates, some Hong Vit micro radish sprinkled on top
  • red cabbage, remaining from an earlier, even richer meal, reheated
  • the wine was an Austrian (Burgenland) red, Zweigelt, Rosi Schuster 2013 (St.Laurent and Blaufrankisch grapes), from Astor Wines
  • the music was that of Philip Glass, his 1983 opera, ‘Akhnaten’* Dennis Russell Davies conducting the Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra and the Stuttgart State Opera Chorus, with Milagro Vargas, Melinda Liebermann, Tero Hannula, Helmut Holzapfel , Cornelius Hauptmann, Victoria Schneider, Lynne Wilhelm-Königer, Maria Koupilová-Ticha, Paul Esswood, Geraldine Rose, Angelika Schwarz, David Warrilow, and Christina Wächtler

* I find ‘Akhnaten’ profoundly moving, although most critics have thought it less successful than the rest of the Glass trilogy. I think my relationship to it is independent of my experience and impressions in a trip I made to Egypt 30 years ago. I never visited el-Amarna, but I did trek through the Valley of Kings, and there I picked up several of the ordinary golden stones which compose the dry landscape. The picture below is of one of them, perhaps a piece of marl or marlstone; I found it on the trail which leads down the mountain to the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. It has acquired a patina from handling it on the table where I spend much of my time, and today, if only because of its origin, it looks to me very much like a large scarab, although somewhat abstracted.