For some hunters, game meat is merely the necessary bi-product of an activity they enjoy. For others, like wild game connoisseur Jesse Griffiths, it’s the meat that makes the pursuit worthwhile in the first place.
Griffiths—a wild game vendor at local farmer’s markets in Austin, Texas, and an instructor of classes on hunting and meat preparation—just released his new cookbook, Afield, which captures the process from field to table with a combination of artistic flair and down-home simplicity.
“I’m in a metropolitan area which is very food focused, a thriving city, and I’m saying to people that the best quality food out there is wild game. There’s ownership with hunting and preparing your own meat, you’ve controlled the process. That’s appealing to people,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths shared one of his best venison recipes with us, Grilled Venison Loin with Horseradish Cream. For more recipes and meat preparation techniques for everything from wild hogs to deer, check out Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish.
Grilled Venison Loin with Horseradish Cream
According to our plan for deer (outlined in our book on page 162), the loin, or “backstrap,” is reserved for cooking whole, and tougher leg muscles are for pounding into cutlets. Here, the loin, the most tender part of the deer, is cooked rare to medium rare,preferably over a hot, smoky grill. Acidic crème fraîche or sour cream cuts the richness of the venison, and the horseradish adds quick heat.
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds venison loin, trimmed of all silverskin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs: thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory, and/or parsley
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup cr.me fra.che or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons or more freshly grated or prepared horseradish
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives or parsley
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Serves 4
1. Season the meat with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons herbs with the olive oil and spread all over the meat. Marinate for 2 hours or overnight, refrigerated.
2. Make a hot, even fire in a charcoal grill, or set a gas grill on high heat.
3. Grill the meat on one side without moving it until nicely browned, 4 to 5 minutes, then rotate 90 degrees to make grill marks and to char more surface area. Flip the loin, cooking 4 to 5 minutes more. Aim for a good, deeply browned char on the outside but leaving the meat still nice and rare on the inside. Transfer to a warm plate and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
4. For the horseradish sauce, mix the cr.me fra.che, horseradish, chives, lemon juice, and zest together in a small bowl, and season with salt. Serve the loin, thinly sliced against the grain, with the horseradish cream, mashed potatoes, and a simple salad or green beans.