We have Venison Sauce and Pasta!
This sauce came out differently from my usual sauce. Which I suppose makes a degree of sense when you consider I didn't make it anything like the sauce I generally make.
Tonight we started at around 11am my slowly torturing myself. No wait! I mean slowly caramelizing 3 medium onions. The torture was merely a by-product of being unallowed to eat the onions while having to smell them cook. (In case it isn't abundantly clear, I have a great love for onions done this way.)
From there we add the freshly thawed venison. For those of you who have never had venison you are missing out. For those of you who want to talk to me about Bambi, FUCK YOU! I mean, uh, you are missing out too and I would appreciate it if you keep your silly ass, Disney fanatic comments to yourself.
Venison cooks up like beef but has its own unique flavor. It should be said that venison does NOT taste "gamey". The gamey taste come when an animal is shot but not taken down right away. The adrenaline floods the animals blood flow and thereby winds up suffusing the meat. When an animal, in this case a deer, is taken down cleanly, the adrenaline never has a chance to sour the meat. What you wind up with is a very fresh tasting red meat that can be handled similarly to beef but imparts a slightly different taste that is a pleasure to the taste buds.
Sorry... Couldn't stop the tirade there.
Moving right along...
The venison was added to the newly caramelized onions and allowed to cook thoroughly before being drained of most of the grease that had cooked out of it.
After that we started adding tomatoes.
Now, by all accounts, I make some pretty damned amazing tomato sauces but i was working with a different meat here and therefore a different flavor. Not having used venison in this capacity before I had no idea where we were going to wind up, but I did have a pretty clear idea of the direction I wanted to take it in.
After adding a can of diced tomatoes (drained... I didn't want all that juice in there at this point), I started with seasoning things up.
I added some lemon pepper to give things a nice round tang.
Garlic to give it some garlic.
Garlic powder because I ran out of garlic.
A blend of red and black pepper to give things some kick because I was upset at having just polished off the garlic powder as well.
Cayenne pepper, because the red and black hadn't quite done enough to mollify me.
Then I rounded things off with a generous helping of parsley flakes, oregano and dill.
I am sure there were some other things in there too but off the top of my head, that is as complete a list as I can come up with.
I stirred it up and let all that simmer for a little while before moving forward with more tomatoes.
This time I added some more drained diced tomatoes and some dice tomatoes with chilies that I left the juice in. (Partially because I was at the point where i wanted some more moisture and partially because I didn't want to loose any of that chili infused flavor!)
Once again, we let that come to a simmer and basked in the slightly acidic aroma of a project well under way.
After a good fifteen minutes or so (and after watching Julia Roberts portray a character trying to impersonate Julia Roberts... My brain melted a little bit in there somewhere) we added a little bit of brown sugar to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and to kill off a little bit of the acidity. Generally I use a bit more than I did this time but, as I said before, this time we were aiming for something different so I didn't want to over sweeten it.
We let the sugar cook into what we had for a while then we added a good sized can of crushed tomatoes.
Finally our sauce was about to become more recognizable as sauce and no longer just a bunch of crap in a pan with meat.
Around now was also when I said to myself, "Oh shit! Bay leaves!" and dashed off to the pantry to get several to add hastily lest I be made fun of for forgetting. Again.
Here comes the slow part. Once things came to a simmer I had to back the heat down as far as I could while keeping it bubbling. Several hours like this and the flavors had begun to marry into something very much like the final goal I had outlined for myself.
Finally, around 4pm (5 hours after we have started, lest we forget) I added in two small cans of tomato paste to start pulling things together.
Around 4:30 we added in some cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Now, for those who don't know me or who are unfamiliar with my cooking... Just about EVERYTHING needs to touch cheese at some point in its life or it can't be considered done. Much like the way that anything that has ever lived near a pig can be added to and considered part of sausage.
5 o'clock rolls around and we throw on some pasta to cook and at 5:30 dinner is served.
Now, as I look back at this post and read it over, it occurs to me that many of you will be trying to duplicate this and will assume that I forgot to mention salt and therefore will be adding some yourself at some point along the way...
Salt isn't something I just conveniently forgot to mention. I honestly didn't use any. All the flavors combined into something that carried itself just fine without it. If it is a concern for you, I suggest putting a shaker or mill at the tabe and allowing everyone to salt to taste. It is already pretty close to where most people are going to want it to be.
Now, because I feel it deserves to be mentioned (and if you don't then to hell with you), I served this dish on plates with some shredded mozzarella on top and some chopped green onions to garnish. I like to serve food that looks as good as I hope it tastes so I generally try to make things at least moderately pretty.
So, that is more or less what my day today consisted of. I share this with you all because, well, I want to and since you are still reading I am hoping you aren't too terribly pissed off at me for doing so.
I am going to leave you with a prayer. (Insert maniacal and infectious laughter here from anyone who knows me.)
Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with Give us pasta with a hundred fillings.
-Robert Farrar Capon-