Venison flanks have to be the most overlooked cuts that I can think of. Sure, it usually gets cut up along with rib meat and added to the grind pile. But how often do you really hear about it being the star of a main course?
The trick to cooking a venison flank properly is low and slow. Here I stuff mine with strips of poblano peppers, onions and lime zest. Then sear it in a hot dutch oven and braise for about 4 hours until tender.
I'm serving this up with a Guatemalan dried shrimp sauce which is a delicious variation of their famous chirmol sauce. I make my own dried shrimp (you can find the recipe here), but you can easily find them online or in most Mexican and Asian grocery stores. Don't let the thought of using dried shrimp scare you, they add an unexpected pleasant flavor to sauces kind of like how fish sauce does in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. You can still make this sauce without the dried shrimp and it will be delicious, but just in not the same ballpark.
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Serves: 2 to 4 people (depends on how the flank was butchered)
The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and is best served at room temperature. This sauce is also delicious served over roasted vegetables.
The flank can be assembled and cooked the day before you plan to eat. Store in the refrigerator in the cooking liquid. Reheat in a 325 degree F oven until warmed through.
The flank and chirmol sauce are great served with steamed rice, roasted potatoes or creamy grits.
For the Venison Flank
1 venison flank
salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced, divided
1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced, divided
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
zest of half of a lime
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
chicken or venison stock, (enough to cover the meat half way)
For the Shrimp Chirmol Sauce
1 1/2 cups dried shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup red onion, small dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 roma tomatoes, chopped fine (you can also use 1.5 cups of crushed pureed tomatoes for a thinner sauce)
5 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon dried piquin chiles (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 330 degrees F.
Lay the flank on a cutting board horizontally. Season with salt, pepper, lime zest and a 1/2 teaspoon of the dried oregano. Lay half of the poblano pepper slices and onions on the flank in the same direction as the flank. Roll the flank tightly and secure with the butchers twine at two inch increments. Season the rolled flank with salt and pepper.
Pre-heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once it beings to lightly smoke add the rolled flank. Sear on all sides until golden brown.
Remove the flank from the pot and set aside. Add the capers, garlic, remaining onion and poblano slices. Cook for 5 minutes stirring often. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and enough stock to cover the meat halfway. Cover tightly and braise in the oven for 4 to 5 hours or until tender.
While the meat is braising, make your sauce.
Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the dried shrimp and toast for 3 to 4 minutes. Let the shrimp cool and then place them in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the shrimp are ground and set aside.
Place a medium sized pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, chiles and scallions and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the dried shrimp, cilantro and mint. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to your liking. This sauce is best served at room temperature.
When the venison flanks are tender, remove them from the pot and let it rest for 5 minutes. Remove the butchers twine and slice the meat against the grain into 1 inch pieces. Serve with a little of the warm broth and top the meat with the shrimp sauce.