Venison! Oh, you cannot ruin a piece of meat from the venerable Staubitz. I used a Tuscan recipe from Saveur, marinating the loin in red wine, carrots, celery, onion, cloves, juniper berries, and peppercorns. After browning on each side I roasted a short time on high heat. Then I deglazed the pan with gin.
The recipe calls for red currants, which cannot be found in my neighborhood. One of these days I'll go through the trouble of calling all over Manhattan for fresh currants (jam would be too sweet), but in the meantime this venison is so lovely, and not at all gamy, it's wonderful just on its own. The mantra for this year was keep it simple, so I just served some mashed carrots on the side.
I am also happy to report that our first course, gnocchi, turned out beautifully. I used the al di la recipe from the Times, which uses chard instead of spinach. Even after all the draining and squeezing the dough came out too wet for my comfort, so I added extra flour. I can only imagine how much better this is with less flour, but as it is my little dumplings were pillowy and bursting with sweet chard flavor.
It helped that instead of cooking the gnocchi in butter after cooking them in water I just plated the gnocchi immediately after cooking in water and then topped with the sage butter. And freezing them a few hours beforehand helped them set, too, I think.
Anna Klinger's Malfatti
1 pound ricotta
4 bunches Swiss chard (about 4 pounds)
8 oz butter
1/4 cup flour, plus more for shaping
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
Freshly ground black pepper
24 fresh sage leaves
Parmesan cheese for serving
1. Drain the ricotta in a sieve lined with cheesecloth overnight in the refrigerator. Measure out 1 1/4 cups.
2. Bring a large pot of water, heavily seasoned with salt, to a boil. Trim the chard, removing all stems and large ridges. Add half to the boiling water and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Fish out and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Repeat.
3. Squeeze out chard with your hands. On a dish towel, spread the chard in a circle the size of a pie. Roll up the towel and have someone help you twist the ends to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Pulse in a food processor until fine. Squeeze out in a dish towel once more, until very dry. (You will have about 1 cup.)
4. Melt half the butter. Mix chard and ricotta. Add melted butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1 heaping teaspoon salt and nutmeg and mix again. Drop in egg yolks and egg, season with pepper and stir again. Sprinkle a cutting board with flour. Shape into 1 oz balls, about 1 tablespoon each, dropping them on the cutting board. You should have 25 to 30.
5. Put a teaspoon of flour into a narrow wineglass. Drop in a ball and swirl until it forms an oval. Repeat. (You may need to change the glass.) You may freeze them at this point.
6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the malfatti and cook until they float, about 8 minutes. (If frozen, 10 minutes.) Put remaining butter in a small saute pan and heat until bubbling, shaking the pan. When it smells nutty, add sage and cook 30 seconds. Season with salt.
7. Drain malfatti and place on plates. Spoon on the butter and sage. Grate Parmesan over each plate.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings as a light main course; 6 to 8 as a first course.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Posted by Adriana Velez at 11:03 AM