Dark Days Challenge: Week 4 (Martha Washington would be proud.)

This summer, I went to a conference for work in Philadelphia. One of the highlights of the week was dinner one evening at The City Tavern. If you’re not a history buff, don’t worry, the food is still awesome. But if you are, this place is really neat.

The notable thing about The City Tavern is that, in a city filled with so much history, this is another facet. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, all dined here. Regularly. It became the unofficial happy hour, if you will, to the Constitutional Convention. In the earliest days of our nation’s history, it was the most famous restaurant in on of the most famous cities.

So, when you eat at The City Tavern, the menu is the same as it was when it opened in 1773, the staff not only dresses the part, but knows all the nuances. And, I had such a good time, I bought the cookbook they were peddling when I was leaving. I probably bought the cookbook because of the venison. I had venison at the restaurant. There’s half a dozen venison recipes in the cookbook. I have a freezer full of venison. That’s how I roll.

The venison was local (yay, hubs). I substituted local onions for the shallots and leeks, local garlic, rosemary and butter. In the demi-glace, the flour. butter, tomato paste (I didn’t use a roma tomato), and onion was local. And the mushrooms and barley weren’t local, but organic. Basically everything was either local or organic except the wine and bourbon and spices. Here’s how I made the recipe:

Pan Seared Venison Medallions

1 1/2 pounds venison tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
2 cups Shiraz or any dryish red wine

3 medium shallots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves pulled
2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 medium leek (white part only) well-rinsed and cut into 2-inch lengths and julienned
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup bourbon
2 cups demi-glace (see below)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the venison into 1/4 inch thick medallions (about 3 oz. each). Place medallions in a medium shallow dish and add wine, shallots, garlic, rosemary and sage. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 8 hours to overnight. Remove venison from the marinade and discard marinade. Pat the venison dry with paper towels. Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat, add the venison, and cook for 3 minutes on each side (for medium rare), until brown. Remove the venison and keep warm. Add the leek to the pan pan and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute about 3 minutes, until soft. Add bourbon to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the demi-glace, reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 3 minutes, until the demi-glace comes to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked barley or egg noodles.

Demi-glace (makes 3 1/2 cups)

1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tb. tomato paste
1 1/2 c. red wine
3 1/2 c. beef stock
1 roma tomato, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped leek
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
3 Tb. all-purpose flour

Melt 2 tb. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until translucent, about 2 or 3 minutes. Toss in mushrooms and saute until any liquid they release has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste, then add 1/2 cup wine to deglaze, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits on the bottom. Simmer until almost dry, then deglaze with another 1/2 cup of the wine. Simmer until almost dry again. Add the rest of the wine, stock, tomatoes, leek and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. In a medium-size bowl, knead together the flour and remaining butter to form a paste. Whisk the paste into the demi-glace and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce is smooth and velvetly. Strain through a sieve and cool te demi-glace in an ice bath. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.


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