Monday, May 12, 2008

Venison sirloin with bing cherry jus and buttermilk mashed potatoes

My dad's birthday was Friday, so he brought over some venison for me to cook (the thought of him eating all his game in the form of well-done steaks drowned in A-1 makes me cringe). Since he brought it the day before, I gave it an overnight dry rub of my usual secret blend, but with a little cocoa powder and coffee added for depth.

The next day I rinsed off the rub (stay with me, here) and gave it a wet marinade with juniper berries, rosemary, pink and black peppercorns, bay leaf, cassia and allspice berries. The wet part consisted of some budget pinot noir, mushroom stock and a bit of honey.

After an hour or two, I pulled the sirloin roast out of the marinade and pat dry. A quick sear in a hot pan (lubed with duck fat), finish in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes (basting a couple times during that period). Whilst the meat was roasting, I reduced the marinade with a spoonful of veal demi and a handful of dried bing cherries. (Don't worry, I hadn't salted the marinade heavily because the dry rub from the night before had already done its work on the meat.) I would've liked to have reduced this down into a sticky syrup, but I could tell my dad really wanted to eat.

The potatoes were simmered with fresh horseradish root and mashed with buttermilk, good French butter and minced chives. In retrospect, I would've just grated the horseradish into the milk and butter and simmered it to pull out the flavor, as the root never really softened up enough to be edible (and we had to pull woody nubs out of our mouths while eating). The asparagus and favas provided a simple side with more of said good French butter, lemon and a chiffonade of fresh mint.

My father, having the palate of a five-year old, would not touch his asparagus or favas. The venison went unsauced, and I had to re-fire the meat after slicing, because he only likes it medium-well to well done. He did, however, like the mashed potatoes because they are pretty much just like baby food.*

Even though he didn't bother staying for his own birthday cake, I also baked him a chocolate cake with homemade pecan-coconut frosting. This was an ordeal and looked like an abortion, but standing over the plate with a spoon, shoveling in warm gooey cake after the harrowing experience of spending three hours with my father was rewarding.

*He reluctantly agreed to a small ramekin of jus on his plate for dipping, and then made a huge fucking production of showing me how open minded he is to try some of my cRaZy sauce. He would stare at me and when I finally turned my head he'd say "see? I'm trying it!" He really is just like a fucking child and leaves me wondering why I even bother. This is the experience of my every holiday.

Also, I rented a movie for us all to watch. "How about Cloverfield? It's a good blockbuster-type monster movie." Scott says "what about No Country for Old Men?", to which I insist, "NO. Cloverfield." My dad doesn't realize we're having a debate over his head because I know that whatever movie we choose will be talked over by my father. "Whoa, what is that?" "I don't know dad, this is the first time we've seen this too." "What is she saying?" "I don't know dad, maybe if you would shut the fuck up for five minutes you'd be able to hear some fucking dialog. I know this isn't Lord of the Fucking Rings, but why don't you just watch it and see what happens." Sheeeesh. I love the man, I really do (mainly because he's my father and I have to, and I'm not completely broken), but I can only take him in small doses. Like an hour every other month.


glamah16 said...

Aren't you the bestest daughter in the whole world. My Daddy was a picky eater too.This meal looks fab.I havent had venison in along while.When I go to Sweden in a few weeks I'm getting some.

Peter M said...

It's super-nice of you to have pops...bear with's good karma & shit.

For example, did he not bring the venison roast for you to decadently prep for supp?

Heather said...

Court - Oh how I wish I could go to Sweden. Home of Ikea! I am so jealous.

Peter - I know it's good karma and all that. Why else would I do it? A man deserves a home-cooked meal on his birthday, for fuck's sake.

Leigh said...

i'll bet you anything he's thinking of that venison meal and feeling pretty darn good. You did well. the cake looks great, and love the cherry/venison combo. I'm gonna try mixing duck with Kriek before the summer's out. oh yeah!

Brittany said...

Dad's are a pain in the ass. It's their job. Your's is a lucky one, I mean the venison was seared in DUCK fat. That is normally something I would hoard away for myself.
You are a very good daughter.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This reminds me of an incredible meal I had in a tiny country restaurant in Scotland, of all places. It looked perfect. And glad your Dad had a good b'day, even if he didn't entirely appreciate the effort!

peter said...

That's my kind of cooking. Nice job.

Ain't family grand? I won't bore you with my paternal-culinary trauma stories.

Peter G said...

As usual I have bookmarked your blend of ingredients in these dishes. You have once again shown to think outside the box with your cooking. Where do you come up with them?...I suppose the scientist background helps.

In regards to dad, try having a father whose a chef! It's the opposite..."did you season this?", "that's not a julienne", "where did you get this meat?.." get the idea!

Jan said...

I know exactly where you're coming from my aged parent is a really picky eater, too. Only nursery food and meat burned to a cinder.

He once came to stay with us for 5 weeks, it's a wonder I didn't murder him. Now his visits are limited to 2 weeks, that way we all keep our sanity. Just. :-)

Kevin said...

That is a nice looking dinner. I have been wanting to try venison for a while. That cake looks amazing!

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

That was so nice of you to do for your Dad. Mine llives about 26 hrs. away and this is a really good thing. When I go up there I visit him but really quickly and usually outside where I can use the kids as an escape...How did we ever survive childhood?????

Norm Schoen said...

Your dinner looks fabulous.
I am a huge fan of duck fat (anytime/anywhere). I also love the asparagus/fava/mint dish.

Heather said...

Leigh - I forgot that I had some Kirschwasser that would've been nice to add to the sauce. Oh well.

Brittany - My dad thinks duck fat is "greasy". I shoulda saved it all for myself.

Jen - Wow, Scotland? That sounds fantastic. I've always wanted to try Scottish hare.

Jube - I knew the coffee in the rub would ring a bell. Are the cherries too on-the-nose?

Petah - The grass is always greener on the other side, eh? Why do we have to have extremes?

Jan - My dad is only 55. He doesn't have enough wisdom to be that cantankerous.

Kevin - Thanks! You might find a game purveyor in your neck of the woods. I might start doing that myself. It's getting to the point where I'd rather buy meat than have to see my old man. :P

Judy - If I didn't love Portland so much I'd put a few states between us. I survived childhood by becoming jaded at a young age.

Norm - The asparagus/mint/fava thing was incredibly easy. (Nice meeting you on Saturday, again!)

glamah16 said...

I'm back! Ikea there is not much diffent than Ikeas here.Its all so global now.Its almost no fun to shop except if you find off beat stuff.Plus the $$$ sucks.
Anyway, before my father died I made him a dish with clams and pasta. He accused me of scrapping barnacles from the sewer. So bear with the old man. I think our Dads were separated at birth as he exhibits the same type of behaviour.

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I love venison when done correctly and yours looks perfect! Now I'm going to have to find a butcher here that has some.

Heather said...

Coco, I figured the whole country just looked like Ikea.

Marc - If you live in the western US you might be able to order some from . I know I sound pure evil, but I wish I could get some fawn. It'd be like lamb, only deerier!

Heather said...

Haha FAIL.

Pixie said...

Heather- I dream about you coming on to my blog to write a guest post: so you can say FUCK about a hundred times for me. Why am I too hesitant to use any foul language I shall never know?

I have a little family get together soon- 'oh the joy'

Great venison dish- You're truly a great cook.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Your dad. You love him really. I can tell. It's all in the food. Particularly that cake, which is love-in-a-sponge if ever I saw it.

kittie said...

Great dish. Obviously the best venison does come from Scotland ;)

Did you know that 'venison' doesn't just mean deer, but any animal meat killed by hunting? Apparently.

I have my mum visiting me this week - I understand the parental angst. Luckily food is the one thing we actually agree on - we're going dinner shopping to all my favourite food places at lunchtime!

We Are Never Full said...

AHHH! Love it... your dad sounds like a pisser. Sounds like most of the people in my family! It is kind of cute that he makes a point to let you know that he's trying things... even if he's not, he realizes he should (wasn't that so therapeutic?).

Anywho's, keep trying... don't loose hope. One day he may end up liking something! At first I thought maybe he was a hunter and brought you the venison he killed and skinned himself. HA!

anywho's, check this out:

I just had to. You don't have to do a fucking thing w/ it b/c I have a love/hate relationship with blogging awards and memes. They are cute and all, and i appreciate it, but when i see that ever single blog all over the blog-o-sphere has received one, well, it makes me feel a little less awesome about it. but it's nice all the same.


Jeff said...

First off hats off for actually using coffee in a rub. Most people look at me like I am batshit insane (ok that is their normal look at me but I prefer to think it is because of the coffee suggestion).

Oh yeah and you asked how I found your blog. Hell if I know there are days I am fucking happy I actually remember how to get to work.

cook eat FRET said...

yes, i just spent 2 days with my mom. we put the fun in dys'fun'ctional.

the dinner sounds wonderful. if only to have eaten that meal - i wish i were your father. i'm probably old enough...

cake is beautiful.

movie watching scenario? priceless...

Damon said...

I can attest to Heather's story about her pops. I witnessed a run of verbal attention grabbing that would put a Greatful Dead Guitar solo to shame for length and pointlessness. What did you guys think of Cloverfield?

Heather said...

Pix – I think you could get away with some British cussing, yeah? Like throw in a “bollocks” or “shite” once in awhile. Hell, I do, and I don’t even live there.

Sketti – I suppose I love my dad. Although if I really loved him I woulda just taken him out to Red Lobster for dinner. That’s more his speed.

Kittie – I did know that about venison, although I still use it to specify the meat from ungulates (as opposed to everything one might hunt (e.g., birds).

Amy – My dad indeed killed that deer. He even gave me a photo of himself kneeling proudly before the body to prove it. He kills a lot of animals, but I usually get to eat pieces of them, so I ain’t mad at him.

Jeff – Jube uses the coffee in his rub too. If I leave the coffee out, my rub just tastes like burnt cumin seed.

Claudia – I wish you were my father, too. It’d make some things confusing, but most things a hell of a lot easier.

Damon – I thought it was alright, but probably would’ve appreciated it more if my father hadn’t talked through the ENTIRE FUCKING FILM. It reminded me of Alien meets Godzilla meets Blair Witch Project. The ending was a bit of a cop-out, imo. The alternate endings were no help. If we had tried to watch No Country, Scott and I would’ve had to flip to see who gets to stab my dad.

maybelles parents said...

Delicious. I have a hook up for venison and have bookmarked this.

Brittany said...

I would never share anything made with duck fat or berry reduction, I would keep it for myself. So you are already one upping me in the karma department.

giz said...

Sounds like dad doesn't have much of a sense of adventure. I get how disappointing - didn't have his own b-day cake - don't you feel special. It took me 100 years but I've finally realized that people will never be who you expect them to be.

Heather said...

Maybelle's Parents - Thanks for the bookmark! I love your blog.

Brittany - To be fair, the duck fat wasn't that fresh.

Giz - Truer words have never been spoken. I'm certainly not the person my dad expected me to be!

Emiline said...

Oh, I love you!! You crack me up so much.
I understand how you feel about your dad. At least you're trying to educate him about food and stuff. He'll probably never change.
My mom hates vinegar, so she always freaks out if I use it. She makes a big scene and it makes me so mad.
Bing cherry jus sounds so good. I would eat my mashed potatoes with is.

Emiline said...

Oh, I forgot the cake!