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It has been stifling hot in many areas throughout the United States. In northeast Montana we even hit well over 100 degrees! This is especially warm considering the area also records frigid temperatures well below zero in the winter months. Even with the air conditioning blasting full bore, the heat wave has had me recalling a trip to Italy my husband and I took in late August of 2007.
Italy had been on my bucket list of places to travel to for many years. Being a history buff, I longed to visit Rome and see the famous sights. On our vacation we explored the Forum, Coliseum, catacombs, fountains and churches all over Rome. We also toured Florence, Pisa and Tuscany.
In the soaring temperatures, the last thing we wanted to fill our bellies with was the heavy pasta or piping hot pizza Italy is famous for. Caprese salad became a staple on our trip. Fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, bold basil and balsamic vinegar with a touch of olive oil and salt… Sigh. The one word that comes to mind when I think of this dish is refreshing. It was exactly what I was yearning for on a hot afternoon as I stared at the thawed mule deer chops in the fridge. And so, the next stop on my mule deer meat world tour – Italy.
Total Prep & Cook Time: 30 min
- 1 head roasted garlic
- 3T. extra virgin olive oil
- 4T. balsamic vinegar
- 2T. molasses
- 1T. sherry
- 1 vine ripened tomato
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
- small bunch of basil leaves
- 4c. baby spinach
- 4 mule deer chops
- sea salt
In a small skillet on medium/low, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and squeeze the cloves from an entire head of roasted garlic into the pan. Mash the cloves with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the balsamic vinegar, molasses and sherry. Stirring occasionally, let the mixture reduce (about 20 minutes).
Pre heat a grill pan or gas/electric grill to high heat.
Cut the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Take a knife to the basil and slice it into thin strips. Prepare the serving plates by adding a handful of baby spinach to each.
Rinse and pat dry four venison chops. When the grill has reached searing heat, place the chops on the grill. Depending on your grill method, cook two-four minutes for medium doneness. Place the venison on top of the spinach on each plate and spoon the reduction on each chop. Add a slice of fresh mozzarella followed by a slice of tomato to each and top with some basil. Sprinkle sea salt over each plate and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
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