The Call of the Wild

Chef Cipolla is a sportsman and our latest menu has been affectionately named “The Call of the Wild”.  I wanted to share with you some of the secrets behind a preparation for Venison that Chef has absolutely mastered.  He pulls slightly different variations of this dish out of his hat from time-to-time for private events but it’s a real treat to have it on the mid-winter menu. 

First of all, venison has only about 20% of the fat of lean beef and that presents a challenge for a succulent entrée.  Part of Chef’s secret to making venison melt in your mouth is wrapping venison tenderloin in caul fat.  Caul fat or “lace fat” is a stomach membrane that slowly absorbs into the venison when it is cooked sous vide (vacuum sealing in a bag and cooking slowly in a water bath) for 3 hours at 130 °F.  While this may make some our vegetarian fans a bit twitchy, it’s hard to deny the innovation and resourcefulness of this method and, let me tell you, it makes your steak like BUTTAH!

After all that, the venison steak is roasted in a cast iron pan to crisp the exterior and finished with coffee and salt.  Now, stick with me because the sauce for this dish is also a star.  That’s because it’s a sinfully rich and slightly sweet 10:1 reduction of port wine and roasted veal stock that takes 4-5 hrs in itself to prepare.  Add in some micro potatoes with crème fraiche and a purée of fennel and we have a stunning dish.  Enjoy!  Spy out.

CoQ au vin

Coq au vin was amongst the first dishes that Chef Cipolla was formally taught at the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) 15 years ago.  It was also Julia Childs's featured dish in her groundbreaking 1961 cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Classic dishes like Coq au vin reflect a time where a people with a deep love and respect for food, made the most out of less desirable ingredients due to hard times.  Specifically, it is traditionally made using a rooster well past his prime (hint: the Viagra ain't working). Like an ancient version of frying, braise the meat in wine long enough and it's sure to taste phenomenal!   Fortunately, we aren't struggling like 18th century French peasants, so Chef's spin on the dish incorporates young free-range chicken from Fisher Hill Farms in Canandaigua, NY.  It's de-boned and re-formed around a truffle mousse.  The wine sauce is a potent 10x volumetric Burgundy reduction that Hannah (our Somm) has paired perfectly with a Spanish Garnacha that is like deep ruby silk with a fleeting smokiness.  

Enjoy!  Spy out.