Venison Steak with Wild Mushrooms
This is a typical dish of the Aosta valley region, where it is still possible to hunt deer with a licence that is rather hard to come by. In the rest of Europe it is much easier to find venison, as deer are farmed now in many places. In Italy it is traditional to serve venison with freshly made polenta, which transforms it into a truly magnificent dish.
- 4 x 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick slices from a venison leg or fillet, weighing a total of 600g (1 lb 5 oz)
- Seasoned plain flour for dusting
- 45g (1 1/2 oz) butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 115g (4 oz) pancetta affumicata
- 350g (12 oz) wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1.2 litres (2 pints) good red wine
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 10 juniper berries
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns, split
- Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the venison for three days before you want to cook the dish. The meat has to be marinated for quite a long time in order to mute the intensely gamey flavour of the flesh and make it more tender.
- Take the meat from the marinade, keeping the marinade to add to the sauce later, and dry with a cloth. Lightly dust the slices with seasoned flour and then fry for five minutes in the butter until brown on each side. Put aside and keep hot.
- In the same butter, fry the sliced onion and the pancetta pieces. Now add the mushrooms and fry all together for a few minutes until golden. Add 300ml (10 fl oz) of the strained marinade, and allow to bubble and reduce briefly. Add the venison pieces, coat with the sauce, and serve with grilled or fried polenta.