Tenderloins are morsels to be treasured. For those of you who don’t know, the tenderloin is a small strip of meat on the underside of an animal’s back; it does very little work, and as such is always meltingly tender. Thus the name. It is filet mignon.
It is also a cut that I rarely share with outsiders — sharing a delicate tenderloin with Holly is one of our minor intimacies. It’s not that I am greedy, it’s that the cut on a deer or antelope is so small that one will only really feed two comfortably. Large deer tenderloins can feed more, but we still find ourselves gobbling down a whole one between the two of us.
So I was surprised to find an antelope tenderloin in the freezer. I shot two antelope, a buck and a doe, in Wyoming last year, so I had acquired four little tenderloins. We ate one straight away. One of my little traditions after big game hunting is to cook one tenderloin rare with just salt and pepper for us when all the hard work of butchering and packing and sealing away is done. I always want to eat at least one cut that has never seen the freezer.
Venison Tenderloin with Roasted Red Peppers
- 1 venison tenderloin
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup Port wine
- 1/2 cup venison broth or beef stock
- 1 whole, large fire-roasted red peppers
- 2 tablespoons dried morel mushrooms
- Chives for garnish
- Take the tenderloin from the fridge and salt it well. Set it aside to come to room temperature for about 20 minutes.
- Lay out the roasted red pepper and cut it into large squares (circles would be fine, too). Remove any stray seeds.
- Grind the dried mushrooms to a powder in a spice grinder, the add to the venison stock.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. When it stops frothing, saute the tenderloin about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how you like your meat. Set aside under foil when done.
- To make the sauce, deglaze the pan with the Port. Scrape up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. When the Port is reduced to a little more than a glaze, add the venison stock and bring to a boil. Reduce this to the point where when you run a spoon through it, the sauce takes a moment to close the trail you left in the pan with the spoon. Turn off the heat and add the final tablespoon of butter. Swirl to combine.
- To serve, pour some sauce down on a plate, then top with the red peppers. Slice the tenderloin and arrange it on the red pepper. Garnish with chopped chives.