Wednesday's supper included a batch of nice little venison steaks. I like using pork products with venison, but I did something rather different with the spices this time.
Bacon-Wrapped Deer Steaks
1 lb. bacon strips
1-2 lbs. venison steaks
For the marinade:
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup pineapple-orange juice
For the masala:
1/4 teaspoon rose baises peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder
dash nutmeg powder
Thaw out the bacon, if frozen. Keep in refrigerator until needed.
Thaw out the venison steaks. Rinse in cold water and pat dry. Prick them thoroughly with a fork to allow the marinade to penetrate, then set aside.
Make the marinade. In a quart-size ziplock bag, combine 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 cup pineapple-orange juice. Seal and shake to combine. Add the venison steaks. Press out most of the air and reseal the bag. Gently squeeze and rotate the sealed bag to coat all surfaces of the meat with the marinade.
Place the bag of meat in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least 2-3 hours.
Make the masala. In a mortar and pestle, grind 1/4 teaspoon rose baises peppercorns. Add 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder, and a dash of nutmeg powder. Grind again and stir to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
Turn on an electric skillet to a low cooking heat; cover. I set mine just above the "keep warm" level, around 200ºF. It needs to be warm when the meat goes in.
Remove venison steaks from marinade, pat dry, and leave on a plate. (Do not rinse.) Discard remaining marinade. Dust top surfaces of all the steaks with the masala.
Remove bacon strips from the refrigerator. One at a time, start wrapping the venison steaks in bacon strips. As you expose the bottom of each steak, sprinkle that side with masala also, then continue wrapping. Use toothpicks to pin the bacon strips in place.
When all the steaks are wrapped in bacon, put them in the skillet and put the lid back on. They should sizzle; if not, turn the heat up slightly until they do. Cook covered for five to ten minutes, turning occasionally. Aim for the venison steaks to be medium rare to medium -- don't overcook. When you think they're done, cut with a knife to check the inside of the meat. It should be dark moist pink, not bloody and not brown. Remove toothpicks from the steaks before eating.
Many kinds of bacon will work, including flavored ones such as black pepper or applewood-smoked. It needs to work with a sweet-savory-spicy blend of flavors. If you like your bacon cooked rubbery, you can use thick slices; if you like it brown and crispy, thin slices will work better. Bacon provides fat and insulation for the very lean venison. (You could just use these spices for flavored bacon.)
Venison steaks come in various sizes and shapes. These were three petite butterflied steaks and one extra bit, about the size of boneless pork chops. Thin steaks are better than thick ones; they'll cook more quickly and evenly here.
For the marinade, pineapple-orange juice is a good combination but either pineapple or orange alone should do fine. The acid helps tenderize the meat, and the sweet fruit juice combines well with the spices and the bacon.
Rose baises peppercorns are pink to red. They have a sweet, fruity note as well as the heat of the peppercorn. They blend well with other sweet, fruity flavors and are good at bridging from there to more savory or spicy notes.
Chipotle chile powder is made from smoked peppers. It has a hot, smoky flavor that can connect with sweeter or savory flavors.
The spices here are carefully balanced to connect all the disparate elements of this recipe, so not a good place for substitutions.
The skillet will be left full of spicy, venison-enriched bacon grease and crispies. It will make excellent gravy from scratch, or you could add it to a packet mix or jar of storebought gravy such as chicken or brown gravy.