In 2010 we had dinner at La Coccinella in Piemonte, and ordered a bottle 0f 1996 Barolo San Giovanni by Gianfranco Alessandria. I liked the wine so much that I was embarrassing Kees with the noises of appreciation that I was making. The next morning we called the winery to see if we could go over there for a wine tasting, and we could. We tasted and bought the 2004 vintage of the same wine. As the 1996 was so great in 2010, I waited until 2018 to taste the 2004. For this special occasion I wanted to prepare something festive.
Roe deer is a small type of venison that is prized for the flavor of its meat, thanks to the roe deer’s very picky eating habits (it doesn’t graze but only nibbles the best leaves and sprigs). It is called ree in Dutch or capriolo in Italian. It is a lot smaller than regular deer, and doesn’t get bigger than a German shepherd. For the female roe deer the hunting season is January through mid-March, so right now is the peak of the season. The best part of the roe deer is the backstrap (back fillet). I purchased a whole back (reerug in Dutch) so I could use the bones to make a sauce. I served it with some cavolo nero, Tuscan cabbage, and a reduction of the stock and red wine. The result was outstanding and a great pairing with the Barolo. Here’s what I did…
serves 4 to 8, depending on the size of the roe deer
1 back of roe deer
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 bay leaf
some thyme sprigs
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
3 juniper berries
salt and freshly ground black pepper
375 ml (half bottle) red wine, preferably a similar type as you will be drinking with the dish
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp corn starch
cavolo nero, to serve
Cut along the bone to remove the back fillets (backstraps). Do the same on the other side to remove the tenderloins (notice how tiny they are?). Trim all the silver skin. Reserve the bones and silverskin for the stock.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Put the bones and scraps in an oven dish together with chopped carrot, celery, and onion.
Roast for 30 minutes at 190C/375F.
Deglaze the roasting dish with 1 litre (4 cups) water. Scrape with a wooden spatula to get all of the flavor that got stuck to the dish.
Transfer the water and solids from the roasting dish to a stock pot or pressure cooker. Add more water if needed to cover.
Bring to pressure and pressure cook for 2 hours, or bring to a boil and simmer for 4 hours.
Sieve the stock into a wide pan, bring to a boil, and then simmer until reduced by half.
Cut the back fillet and tenderloin into medallions. Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brown the medallions on all sides in extra virgin olive oil over high heat.
Take the medallions out of the pan and set aside.
Do not clean the pan, but add chopped shallots, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme to the drippings.
Stir over medium heat until the garlic and shallot start to color. Then deglaze the pan with half a bottle of good red wine.
Bring to a boil, then reduce by half over medium heat. Scrape with a wooden spatula to include all of the flavor.
Strain the flavor-infused wine through a fine sieve.
Add the reduced wine to the reduced roe deer stock.
Finish cooking the roe deer medallions. I did this by vacuum sealing them after they had cooled, and cooking them sous-vide for 1 hour at 53C/127F. You can also finish cooking them in a slow oven (100C/200F) until the core temperature reaches 53C/127F.
Reduce the stock and wine mixture until it has been reduced to about 250 ml (1 cup).
Mix a teaspoon of corn starch with a teaspoon of cold water, and add this slurry to the reduced stock and wine. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce binds.
If cooking sous-vide, you can also mix the juices from the bag with the same slurry and then add it to the sauce.
Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (If the sauce tastes too acidic, you could add a pinch, but only a pinch, of sugar.)
Turn off the heat and toss the medallions in the sauce to coat them with it.
Serve the medallions on preheated plates with the remaining sauce poured on top.
I served them along with some cavolo nero, stir fried in extra virgin olive oil with some garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
This was outstanding with Barolo. Other complex red wines would also work.
This date and pear cake is really nice.