Venison Roast with Savory Mushroom Ragout
Venison is a very lean cut of meat, so it benefits from the addition of fat. In this recipe, pork fat combines with a delicious combination of rich, meaty mushrooms and fresh herbs to make a ragout that, when rolled in the roast, imparts amazing flavor to the venison meat. The bacon acts as a baster to add further flavor and moistness to the roast. Roll up your sleeves and take your time with this one; it is well worth the effort!
4-5 lbs venison leg roast, boned
2 lbs pork fat, or 3 lbs fatty pork butt or shoulder roast, diced
8 oz portobello mushrooms, chopped
6 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 oz dried crimini mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped, liquid reserved
1 oz shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped, liquid reserved
1 lg yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp truffle oil
6 strips thick smoked bacon
2 tbl chopped parsley
2 tbl lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper
To make ragout:
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil and 1/2 stick butter. Heat until blended and slightly smoking. Season pork with salt and pepper. Cook pork and/or pork fat in olive oil and butter mixture until gently browned and fat is slowly rendered, about twenty minutes. Add onions, garlic, and bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for another ten minutes, until onions and garlic become fragrant. Add remaining 1/2 stick butter, mushrooms, thyme and rosemary, and cook for yet another ten minutes, until mushrooms wilt. Add balsamic vinegar, worcestershire, honey, wine and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until liquid is slightly reduced and ingredients are well mixed, about ten minutes. Mixture should be soft, but still firm, highly seasoned, but not too strong. Add truffle oil and stir. Remove from heat and turn ragout out until jelly roll pan to cool, about thirty minutes.
To prepare roast:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Lay venison roast out on large surface. Using a sharp, thin knife, carefully “lay open” roast, keeping meat intact. Cut to approximate 1/2″ thickness throughout. Season liberally with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Spread cooled mushroom ragout all over roast. Roll, taking care to contain mixture inside roast. Add additional ragout as needed to fill in. Secure roast with twine. Rub olive oil all over surface of roast and season again with salt and pepper.
In a large roasting pan or dutch oven, heat 2 tbl olive oil over medium heat. Brown roast on all sides, turning carefully to retain ragout. Remove roast to roasting rack placed on shallow pan. Lay bacon slices over roast. Place in oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, basting occasionally with pan juices.
Remove roast from oven and let sit for fifteen minutes before carving. Remove bacon; chop and reserve for garnish, if desired. Cut twine and slice roast crosswise to maintain “jellyroll” effect. Spoon pan drippings over roast. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon zest.
Any additional ragout mixture can be heated in a saucepan and combined with stock to make a sauce to serve with the venison. The ragout is also a delicious topping for grilled steaks or chicken.