I’ll be honest, my husband Randy and I are relatively nascent members of the deer season world. It was our love of the land that really was a key motivation for our move from our birthplace of St. Louis to Northeast or Scotland County, Missouri. Along the way, Randy has developed a love for being one with nature and hunting on the land, like this deer that he speared with a arrow this past deer season:
AND, I’ve enjoyed the challenges of cooking the bounties of our garden and the fruits of my husband’s labor, namely, venison. But, as you’ll see in the recipe outlined below, by marrying a medium rare seared deer tenderloin over a bed of buttery kamut ancient grains with the pungency of blue cheese and umami (A/K/A unctuous) taste of mushrooms all finished with a rich red wine pan gravy, this meal will definitely be elevated to your go-to “at home” gourmet meal that has the added benefit of also being good for you!
But let’s back up for just a second. I have to clue you in on some of the nutritional virtues of not only venison but the ancient grain kamut, before I let you in on the mouthwatering recipe I’ve provided below:
Venison Virtues– Hunting and consuming deer (venison) meat takes us back to our Paleolithic ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, where everything that was consumed was only gathered, fished or hunted. Loren Cordain, author of the Paleo Diet said it best of the exemplary nutritional value of this diet, “Just 500 generations ago, and for 2.5 million years before that, every human on earth ate this way. It is the diet to which all of us are ideally suited, and the lifetime nutritional plan that will normalize your weight and improve and health.” So forget the concern of added antibiotics, growth hormones, steroids and other toxins that are common in CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) raised animals when consuming this wild-game meat. But, don’t forget to add venison’s nutritional qualities of being a great source of protein, B vitamins, heme iron (more absorbable than non-heme iron in plants) and Omega 3 anti-inflammatory EPA/DHA fats coupled with significantly less overall fat, inflammatory Omega 6 fats and saturated fat than grain-fed animals.
Kamut Virtues– Kamut is actually a brand name for the ancient khorasan wheat. The name of “Prophet’s Wheat” or the grain Noah was thought to bring off the ark is attributed to this ancient grain, although the origins are truly unknown. What is known is that this large grain (about 2x the size of a standard wheat kernel), also known as “high energy wheat” packs a mighty nutritional wallop!
The protein and dietary fiber punch of Kamut’s 7 grams and 4 grams compared to white rice’s 3 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber will keep you coming back for more, having 40% more protein than standard wheat. It’s also rich in key minerals like selenium (immune boosting and cancer fighting), magnesium (a natural relaxant for all the muscles in your body), and zinc (immune booster). Significant health benefits were discovered in comparing the consumption of kamut (in the form of breads, pastas and crackers) to semi-whole grain wheat in the 2013 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Over an 8 week period metabolic risk factors like total cholesterol, LDL and blood glucose along with markers for oxidative stress and inflammation were notably reduced on the replacement diet of kamut vs. semi-whole grain wheat products.
Now let’s get to the MEAT of the matter (pun intended):
Venison Prep: Marinades are key with game, taking the gamy flavor and toughness out of the meat. Deer tenderloin, however, is almost a no-brainer as far as preparation. Just a little marinade time will do since it’s already the most prized portion of not only deer but all red-meat animals. Just make sure to remove the silver skin before cooking for it will add unnecessary sinew and toughness to an otherwise tender cut.
Kamut Prep: The ancient grain kamut that I’ve included in the recipe below is a little different than all the other ancient grains we’ve talked about before here: Discover the Goodness of Ancient Grains. Out of all the ancient grains, the actual kamut grain is one the largest, so it requires the longest cooking time. But along with that size comes a delightful buttery and sweet taste that makes it worth the effort! The crockpot or slow-cooker application is perfect for this grain. I suggest prepping the grain part of this dish the night before then let this dish cook all day. All you’re left to do to finish the dish off is to sear then roast the loin and make the pan gravy, making it a an easy weeknight meal!
Okay, all you deer hunters and cooks out there! Let me know if this recipe was worth the hunt!
P.S. This is one of my most favorite, savory, after-the-hunt, life-is-good….and-it-can-be-healthy-to-boot….dishes Heliene has ever created. Bon appetit!
DEER TENDERLOIN WITH RED PAN GRAVY
SERVED OVER KAMUT WITH BLUE CHEESE AND MUSHROOMS
*1-2 pound deer loin
¼ cup apple cider
¼ cup dry red wine
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
**1 T Herbes De Provence
Salt and pepper
Red Pan Gravy (see below)
Kamut with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese (see below)
- Marinade the deer loin in the cider, wine, oil and garlic for 30 minutes in a plastic bag and refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Take loin out of bag and pat it dry. Lay loin on a platter.
- Sprinkle entire loin with Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper.
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat, put your hand above the pan to feel the heat, if heated, coat bottom of pan with olive oil until it shimmers.
- Sear each side of the loin, allowing it to have a golden “crust”.
- After searing, take loin out of pan on stovetop and place in pan in the oven.
- Follow procedure for Red Pan Gravy below. Remember, it is so important to use the same pan for making the gravy that you used for searing the loin to get those precious bits of flavorful meat left in the pan called “fond”.
- Check the meat with a meat thermometer, when meat has reached 140 degrees it would be considered medium rare.
- Let meat “rest” for 5-7 minutes after cooking is complete.
- Cut meat on the bias in slices.
- Serve by ladling ½ cup of kamut in the middle of the plate, setting 2-3 slices of deer loin on kamut and spoon red pan gravy over the deer loin.
*You can easily substitute any red meat tenderloin in this recipe, i.e. pork or beef.
**You can also substitute a mixture of 1 tsp. each of dried rosemary, basil and thyme.
RED PAN GRAVY
1 large shallot
½ cup red wine (or chicken stock)
¾ cup chicken broth
2 tsp. packed brown sugar
3 T unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces, chilled
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
¼ tsp. balsamic vinegar
- Pour off all but 2 tsp. fat from pan used to cook meat.
- Add shallot to pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until softened, 1-2 minutes.
- Add wine (or stock) and simmer rapidly (called deglazing), scraping up any browned bits, until the liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in broth and sugar and simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup, 4-6 minutes.
- Stir in any accumulated meat juices.
- Take off the heat and whisk in butter, one piece at a time.
- Stir in rosemary and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle over meat.
KAMUT WITH MUSHROOMS AND BLUE CHEESE
2 T. butter
1 medium onion, small dice
8 ounces baby bella or white mushroom, thinly sliced
6 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups kamut berries
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion, mushrooms and garlic and season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until any liquid released from the mushrooms evaporates and the onions are just starting to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add one cup broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the onion-mushroom mixture to a slow cooker and set it on low. Add the kamut and remaining 2 cups broth and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the kamut is tender, about 7 hours.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese has melted.
*Recipe from CHOW
**Note-Everyone has different tastes when it comes to chewiness preferences. Check the Kamut after 4-5 hours. You might decide that 5-6 hours of cooking this grain meets your “chewiness” quotient!