For those who live in the fast-food lanes of life, the intersection of good friends, patient bowhunting, and simply prepared wild food might seem to be a curious mystery.
But to David Bancroft, host of Exmark’s excellent Prime Cuts series on backyard cooking, it makes perfect sense in the field, around a wood-fired oven, and over a plate of hot food shared with good friends.
That’s especially true when the food happens to be venison, a lean, wild meat that produces meals as memorable as the hunts that provided them.
And that’s exactly what brings Bancroft—a passionate bowhunter, a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist in the Best Chef South category, Iron Chef Showdown Champion, and owner of the Acre and Bow and Arrow BBQ restaurants – together with McDaniel in this backyard cooking video.
McDaniel is no stranger to bowhunting and good food either. In fact, he’s a five-time James Beard Award semifinalist in the Best Chef South category along with being a longtime executive chef at one of Alabama’s most well-known restaurants, Springhouse. Add in the fact that he’s a passionate bowhunter – with a recurve, no less – and a chef who once bested Bobby Flay in Iron Chef competition, and you know some good, wild food is on the menu.
To start this video, Bancroft asks his brother of the woods and wild kitchen a simple question: “Why venison?”
To which McDaniel replies with a straightforward answer: “Why not? It’s delicious.”
With that, Bancroft and McDaniel dive into a simple-and-unique recipe that involves a smoking hot wood-fire, a cast-iron skillet, some simple spices, a little olive oil, and the main ingredients of sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and of course, some lean venison.
As you watch this video, keep a notepad handy for all the great food preparation tips that are presented by these two enthusiastic wild chefs. From hanging fresh venison in a refrigerated cooler for 14 days (to achieve optimal tenderness and taste) to resting the seared venison for 8 to 10 minutes (after cooking it to medium-rare) to using the right wood (McDaniel is partial to hickory, Bancroft stays true to his Texas roots and suggests oak), there is no shortage of suggestions that will help backyard chefs create a tasty and memorable meal in a simple iron skillet.
By the end of this backyard cooking video, the result is a simple, nutritious, smoky good meal that you can almost smell through the video screen as the steam wafts up from the plate.
As one of Creation’s best meals, there would seem to be few better ways to prepare venison than with some “Oven Loving” as Bancroft quips. The result of Rob McDaniel’s Seared Venison is an easy-to-follow recipe that creates a stunning visual presentation and a spellbinding wild taste that will keep dinner guests smiling … and coming back for more!
Rob McDaniel’s Recipe: Seared Venison, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, and Pecan Vinaigrette
Video courtesy of Exmark’s Backyard Life
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- Venison filet (backstrap)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Brussel sprouts, quartered
- Pre-roasted sweet potatoes, sliced and smashed flat
- Sherry vinegar
- Olive oil
- Homemade mustard
- Chile de árbol peppers
- Toasted pecans
- Trim venison and then coat it in a light layer of oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the seasoned venison in an oiled cast-iron skillet that’s been pre-heated in a 500-degree oven.
- Pull the preheated skillet from the oven and add some oil to it. Add venison to skillet and place in the oven to sear.
- As the venison begins to sear, prepare the veggies: Quarter-cut the Brussel sprouts, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Hand flatten the pre-roasted sweet potatoes into coins and season with salt.
- Place Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes in the same skillet as the venison.
- When the venison is medium-rare, pull it from the oven and let rest for 8-10 minutes. Leave the vegetables in the oven so they can continue to cook.
- Combine all Pecan Vinaigrette ingredients to make vinaigrette.
- Slice venison and serve with sweet potato coins and Brussel sprouts; top with Pecan Vinaigrette.