BACON WRAPPED VENISON TOURNEDOS WITH SWEET POTATO HUSH PUPPIES AND ORANGE CILANTRO TAPENADE
Bacon wrapped venison tournedos are probably one of the first meals that a new wild game eater tries out. And its with good reason, smoky bacon and red meat just taste so dang good together. It's not a way to mask any unwanted gamey flavors that people associate with venison, its actually to highlight the rich dark red meaty goodness with some smoky flavor and juicy fat.
As a southerner, I love good hush puppies with my steaks and seafood. And these sweet potato hush puppies are a match made in heaven with the sweet and tangy orange cilantro tapenade. (Disclaimer, I did use a boxed cornbread mix for this recipe due to the fact people are limited to great cornmeal. My knock your socks off hush puppy recipe will be out soon, but be prepared to order real deal delicious cornmeal).
And if you're a tapenade lover, make some extra because this version goes great with pork and shrimp as well.
~ Serves 4 people
For the Bacon Wrapped Venison Tournedos
8 strips - thick cut smoky bacon
8 - venison tournedos (about 2.5 inches thick venison loin steaks (backstrap)
1 bunch - cilantro stems (chopped)
1/2 cup - olive oil (not extra virgin)
4 - cloves fresh garlic (chopped)
salt and pepper as needed
butchers twine for securing the bacon
For the Orange Cilantro Tapenade (will keep one week in the fridge)
1/4 cup - fresh or high quality orange juice
1 teaspoon - orange zest
1 teaspoon - lime zest
1/2 cup - extra virgin olive oil
1 cup - kalamata olives (pitted and finely chopped)
2 tablespoons - capers (finely chopped)
1/2 cup - packed cilantro leaves (finely chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
For the Hushpuppies
vegetable oil (***for deep frying***)
1 (8.5 ounce box) - cornbread mix
1/4 cup - cake flour
6 - green onions (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup - onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon - black pepper
1/4 teaspoon - cayenne pepper
1/2 cup - sweet potato puree
Wrap and marinate the venison. Place the bacon in a pot with enough water to completely cover the bacon. Bring to a slow simmer and cook the bacon for 5 minutes. Remove the bacon and dry off with paper towels. Wrap one piece of bacon around the circumference of each tournedo. Wrap butchers twine around the bacon and venison to secure. Place the venison in a baking dish. In a bowl mix together the oil, cilantro, garlic and a pinch of kosher salt & back pepper. Pour the marinade over top of the meat and marinate for 2 to 8 hours.
Make the tapenade while the venison is marinating. Combine all of the ingredients for the tapenade to a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Covered tightly this mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the hush puppies and keep them warm in the oven. Pre-heat your oven to the warm setting. In a heavy duty medium sized pot, add enough oil to fry the hush puppies while leaving at least 3 inches of clearance to insure there is no oil spillage. Bring the oil to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients for the hush puppies and mix until thoroughly combined. Drop the batter into the hot oil in tablespoon size portions being careful that you do not splatter the oil. Fry in batches until they are golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Place uncovered in a pre-heated warm oven while you cook the venison.
Cook the steaks. Place your grill or large cast iron skillet over high heat. Season the steaks with salt and black pepper. Place the steaks on their sides (bacon side down) and cooked while rotating the meat until the bacon in nicely browned and a little charred. Now turn them onto their flat sides and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until you reach your desired internal temperature (as always I recommend not cooking venison steaks passed medium rare). Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes, remove the strings and serve with the tapenade and sweet potato hush puppies.