Makes 6 servings
Venison’s rich flavor and color has made it one of my favorite meats. It is also low in fat and is now fairly easy to purchase. If venison is unavailable, this recipe can be made using any dark game or poultry; duck is virtually interchangeable with venison. And, if you don’t care for game meat, pork or lamb would work here as well.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 sage leaves
- 4 1/2 lb venison saddle, bones removed and reserved, meat trimmed
- Olive oil, as needed
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 celery stalk, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1 apple, peeled and diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 black peppercorn
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir
- 1 quart beef broth
Foie Gras Bread Pudding
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups foie gras, at room temperature, cleaned and scraped
- 1 teaspoon chopped sage
- 3 large eggs
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 loaf white bread, crust removed, cubed or cut into triangles, and dried slightly
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butte
- 1 cup sliced shallot
- 1 1/2 lb firm, tart apples, peeled and sliced
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup red wine
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter six 2- to 3-inch ramekins.
- Place the sage leaves on top of the venison meat and reserve in the refrigerator until needed.
- In a roasting pan, toss the venison bones with olive oil. Put the pan in the oven and roast the bones until well browned, about 1 hour, turning the bones over every 20 minutes.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add the browned bones to the pot with the caramelized vegetables. Scrape the seeds from inside each half of the vanilla bean into the pot, then add the pod.
- Pour the apple cider into the roasting pan and deglaze, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the pan drippings. Add the pan drippings and liquid to the large pot and increase the heat to medium-high to establish a simmer. Add the diced apple, bay leaf, peppercorn, thyme, and wine. Continue simmering until the liquid has reduced by three-quarters, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the beef broth and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced to 2 cups, skimming as necessary.
- At this point, the sauce will have simmered for about 1 hour total and should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, cover it with plastic wrap, and reserve.
- To cook the saddle: Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the venison and sage leaves and cook until the meat is browned on both sides but still pink in the middle and the internal temperature registers 145°F, about 4 minutes per side. Reserve the venison and keep warm in the oven until needed.
- To make the foie gras bread pudding: Heat the butter in a high-sided sauté pan over medium heat, add the shallots, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and increase the heat to establish a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In a blender, process the warm milk mixture, foie gras, sage, and eggs until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the cubed bread in a mixing bowl, pour the foie gras mixture on top, and allow it to soak into the bread. Transfer the mixture into the prepared ramekins and smooth out the tops with a rubber spatula. Gently place the ramekins in a high-sided roasting pan and pour in enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the bread puddings until set, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- To make the apple compote: Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add the shallots, apples, and vanilla bean and cook until the shallots and apples are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and wine, partially cover the pot, and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced to a syrup, about 20 minutes.
- To serve, let the venison rest on the cutting board for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Slice in 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve about 3 slices per plate. Be sure that the sauce is piping hot before it is drizzled over the venison. Serve the foie gras bread pudding with the apple compote on the side.Chef’s Note: An alternative to baking the foie gras bread pudding in individual ramekins is to bake the mixture in a loaf pan. When the bread pudding is completely cool, the loaf can be removed from the pan and sliced into individual portions (see photo).