Grilled Drunken Venison Chops with Pommes Frites

If you’re like me, you probably have some wild game in the freezer that’s awaiting a good recipe after the fall hunting seasons.

Yesterday, I threw together a batch of white chili using pheasants from northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana. The recipe came from the folks at Cacique USA (http://caciqueusa.com/), the makers of authentic Hispanic cheeses, creams and chorizo. It was excellent.

I wouldn’t have known about the Cacique website had it not been for an e-mail that came my way recently. In fact, that’s how I get a lot of recipes and ideas for my own creations.

Another missive came just the other day, this one from the Bonnier Corp., which has several publications, including Outdoor Life, one of the world’s largest hunting and fishing publications. The release said Outdoor Life had joined forces with sister publication, Saveur, one of the nation’s most respected food magazines, to provide a complete guide to preparing one of hunting’s best red meat — venison (http://Outdoorlife.com/venison).

The result is five test-kitchen approved recipes from three top game chefs (who also love to hunt). In addition, Outdoor Life offers tips on deer butchering, venison wine pairings and how to grill the perfect venison steak. (For hunters looking to share the bounty, the same issue provides a special feature on “Venison Power,” outlining programs in all 50 states where hunters can donate game meet for the hungry.)

A recipe that caught my eye one that I’m going to share here was from John Reilly, event chef and owner of the Village Market and Bakery in Gardiner, N.Y., for Drunken Grilled Venison Chops with Pommes Frites (potato fries).

Grilled Drunken Venison Chops with Pommes Frites
8 double-cut venison loin chops (remove sinew from eye of meat)
1 cup Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon (reserve remainder of bottle for drinking)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 tablesoon cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
2 sprigs thyme, cleaned
1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries
Pinch-plus of Kosher or sea salt
2 cups blended olive/vegetable oil
2 to 3 Idaho potatoes, washed and sliced lengthwise in ¼-inch wedges and patted dry
Sea salt
For the chops, whisk together wine, garlic, pepper, olive oil, shallot, thyme and juniper berries for marinade. (Do not include salt!) Place chops and marinade together in a large dish, making sure to coat meat thoroughly on all sides. Refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or up to 12 hours, turning meat several times.
Preheat grill to ensure that the chops will be nicely seared. (The best fire for cooking is natural charcoal, but gas will do.)
Wipe excess marinade off shops before placing chops on grill to avoid flare-ups from olive oil (and chipped teeth from juniper berries!). Turn over only once on grill to help get nice grill marks.
When you’ve reached your favorite doneness for venison (preferably no more than medium), pull chops from grill. Let rest to set juices (5 to 8 minutes). Sprinkle with sea salt.
For the Pommes Frites, heat oil slowly in deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Look for heat waves rippling across surface oil, or test small piece of potato before adding all fries. (Oil that is too hot or too cold is your enemy — the ideal temperature is 435 degrees.)
Gently add potatoes to oil, browning on all sides to tender inside. Remove to baking screen or cookie sheet with paper towel and salt immediately.
Serve one or two loin chops per person with pommes frites,
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.
Note: You can substitute any Cabernet Sauvignon for the Stag’s Leap in this recipe.

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