Roasted rack of venison with rosemary on the side.
Main courses, My PNW

Roasted rack of venison with rosemary and pancetta

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Roasted rack of venison with rosemary and pancetta is perfect for a special wintery and fragrant dinner. Serve it with a side of thyme roasted pears and a glass of red wine for an elegant and complete meal. The rib rack of venison is a tender and lean cut of meat that lends itself well to fragrant and earthy flavors such as rosemary, garlic and thyme.

This post was sponsored by Marx Foods through my participation of the Marx Foods venison recipe challenge.

Medium-rare venison accompanied by thyme roasted pears, picante hubbard squash and homemade fig preserves.

Nestled in the Queen Anne neighborhood across from the PI Globe you’ll find an incredible specialty food store with truly unique and delectable items sourced from around the world. I was incredibly honored when I was invited to participate in the Marx Foods venison recipe challenge.

I’ve always wanted to try venison, but like many people found myself rather intimidated to make it. I was up for the challenge to try something new. I decided to pair the venison with fruity and savory flavors that pay great respect to this beautiful animal. The end result was a tender, lean and succulent roasted rib rack infused with rosemary, garlic, thyme and pancetta. To balance the rich flavor of the venison, it was accompanied by thyme roasted pears and picante roasted hubbard squash.

Once you know a few tips, venison isn’t as intimidating as you might think.  Here’s what I learned:

  • Before preparing venison it helps to know if the cut of meat is tender or tough. This will affect your cooking method. Tender – not very long and medium-rare. Better for pan-searing or roasting. Tough – low and slow. Better for stews or braising in liquid.
  • It’s also helpful to know whether the venison is farmed or wild.  Farmed tends to be less gamey. Using a marinade with a little acid (such as red wine or vinegar) overnight helps reduce the gamey-ness.
  • Use a digital meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.
  • Use a heavy gauge oven-safe sauté pan or roasting pan for more even distribution of heat.
  • Once it’s cooked, let it rest. Transfer the meat to a platter or cutting board and let it rest several minutes before cutting into it. This helps retain it’s juiciness.

The venison used in this recipe is a New Zealand Cervena, French cut rib rack. It is farmed, free range, and hormone free. It is a lean and tender cut of meat. Allow for at least one venison rib per person. I found the venison to be rich in flavor and hearty. One rib was plenty for me with side dishes.  Finish your side dishes before you begin. They can rest covered with foil to retain the heat while you prepare the venison.

Recommended side dishes:

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

Venison rib French rack – at least 4 ribs
2 – 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed but left whole
Fresh thyme leaves, 3 – 4 sprigs
Fresh rosemary, 3 – 4 sprigs
Extra virgin olive oil, 2 – 3 tbsp
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pancetta – you’ll need about 3 slices per two ribs, roughly chopped
1 bottle good quality red wine blend
1 can beef broth

Method

Day before:

With a sharp knife remove any silver skin that may still be there. This is a light connective tissue on the outside of the meat. It is not difficult to remove. Gently let the knife do the work and pull it aside.

I recommend slicing portions of the rib rack – two ribs at a time for easier handling and more even cooking. Rinse and pat the meat dry.

Place the ribs into a large zip lock bag and marinate the meat overnight in 1/2 cup of red wine and 1/2 cup of beef broth.

Tip: To scale this recipe for more people, allow for ¼ cup of red wine and ¼ cup of beef broth for every two ribs. Use a good quality red wine blend.

Wine recommendation: Venison pairs nicely with red wine blends. I used a 2013 Rock Island Red, from Ryan Patrick Vineyards – an award winning Washington wine from the Columbia Valley. This is a wonderful drinking wine and paired perfectly with the venison. It features flavor layers of dark cherry, plum and cocoa.

2013 Rock Island Red, Ryan Patrick Vineyards
2013 Rock Island Red, Ryan Patrick Vineyards

Cooking the venison:

Remove the venison from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Drizzle both sides with a little olive oil. Then season them with a pinch or two of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally, sprinkle each one with fresh thyme leaves and 2 – 3 cloves of finely diced garlic. Set aside.  Move the oven rack to lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Seasoned and ready to cook. It's rosy red because of the marinade.
Seasoned and ready to cook. It’s rosy red because of the marinade. Pancetta chopped and rosemary and garlic ready to go.

Use a heavy gauge oven-safe sauté pan. On medium-high heat, add about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Then add two cloves of crushed garlic and a sprig or two of rosemary. Sauté the garlic in the oil for a few minutes and add the pancetta.

Tip: Once the garlic toasts, remove it from the pan. (This imparts garlic flavor into the oil. Once garlic browns it becomes bitter).

Seasoning the oil and pan with flavor.

Seasoning the oil and pan with flavor.

Sauté the pancetta until it is crispy (a few minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Move the rosemary to the side of the pan. Brown the venison rib rack on both sides (just a few minutes).

Place the venison on top of some of the rosemary and place it into the oven to roast.

Into the oven to roast.
Into the oven to roast.

Roast the venison until it reaches an internal temperature of 142 F (approximately 15 – 20 minutes). I also turned the venison once half way through the cooking time to encourage even cooking. Transfer the meat to a platter or cutting board and cover with foil. The temperature should continue to rise another few degrees to 145 F as it rests for several minutes.

Deciding what temperature was medium-rare for vension was the hardest part of this recipe challenge for me. Just about every recipe I looked at during my research had a different recommendation. Temperatures varied between 125 – 145 degrees F. Some sites also stated that if the venison is wild, it should be cooked to a minimum of 145 F to kill any parasites or bacteria that may be present. Something to keep in mind if you have wild hunted venison. In the end, I decided upon 142 F and was happy with the medium-rare result after it had rested. Remember, ovens vary and when in doubt, monitor the cooking progress.

Just out of the oven - roasted and ready to rest.
Just out of the oven – roasted and ready to rest.

 

After the rest.
Medium-rare after the rest.

Red wine reduction:

While the venison rests, you can prepare a simple red wine reduction to drizzle over top of the chops. Using the same sauté pan (careful it’s hot!) on high heat, add ½ cup of red wine and a ½ cup of beef broth  and simmer scraping down the browned bits from the bottom of the pan until it reduces by about half. Remove the rosemary. Add two tablespoons of butter and season with a little salt and pepper. Prior to serving, put the liquid through a fine sieve.

A simple red wine reduction.
A simple red wine reduction.

Presentation:

Nestle the venison next to your chosen side dishes. Drizzle a small amount of the red wine reduction over the meat and top with crispy pancetta just prior to serving. Garnish with homemade fig preserves or Italian parsley on the side.

I’d like to thank Marx Foods for sponsoring this wonderful, wintery and special meal. We can now add venison to our list of possibilities.  If you have a chance, check out their retail store or shop online. There is a multitude of specialty products just waiting for you to discover.

A special wintery meal.
A special wintery and fragrant meal. Sweet and savory flavors accompany rich and tender roasted venison.

 

Roasted rack of venison with rosemary and pancetta

Roasted rack of venison with rosemary and pancetta is perfect for a special wintery and fragrant dinner. Serve it with a side of thyme roasted pears and a glass of red wine for an elegant and complete meal.

  • 4 ribs venison French rib rack
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed and left whole)
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 slices pancetta (chopped)
  • 1 bottle red wine blend
  • 1 can beef broth

Day before:

  1. With a sharp knife remove any silver skin that may still be there. This is a light connective tissue on the outside of the meat. It is not difficult to remove. Gently let the knife do the work and pull it aside.
    I recommend slicing portions of the rib rack – two ribs at a time for easier handling and more even cooking. Rinse and pat the meat dry.
    Place the ribs into a large zip lock bag and marinate the meat overnight in 1/2 cup of red wine and 1/2 cup of beef broth.

Cooking the venison:

  1. Remove the venison from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Drizzle both sides with a little olive oil. Then season them with a pinch or two of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally, sprinkle each one with fresh thyme leaves and 2 – 3 cloves of finely diced garlic. Set aside. Move the oven rack to lower ¾ of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Use a heavy gauge oven-safe sauté pan. On medium-high heat, add about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Then add two cloves of crushed garlic and a sprig or two of rosemary. Sauté the garlic in the oil for a few minutes and add the pancetta.

    Tip: Once the garlic toasts, remove it from the pan. (This imparts the garlic flavor into the oil. Once garlic browns it becomes bitter).

    Sauté the pancetta until it is crispy (a few minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Move the rosemary to the side of the pan. Sear the venison and brown them on both sides (a few minutes). Place the venison on top of some of the rosemary and place it into the oven to roast. Roast the venison until it reaches an internal temperature of 142 F (approximately 15 – 20 minutes). I also recommend turning the venison once half way through the cooking time to encourage even cooking. Transfer the meat to a platter or cutting board and cover with foil. The temperature should continue to rise another few degrees to 145 F as it rests for several minutes.

Red wine reduction:

  1. While the venison rests, you can prepare a simple red wine reduction to drizzle over top of the chops. Using the same sauté pan (careful it’s hot!) on high heat, add ½ cup of red wine and a ½ cup of beef broth and simmer scraping down the browned bits from the bottom of the pan until it reduces by about half. Remove the rosemary. Add two tablespoons of butter and season with a little salt and pepper. Prior to serving, put the liquid through a fine sieve.

Presentation:

  1. Nestle the venison next to your chosen side dishes. Drizzle a small amount of the red wine reduction over the meat and top with crispy pancetta just prior to serving. Garnish with homemade fig preserves or Italian parsley on the side.

 

3 Comments

  1. Great recipe! I’ve never tried roasting pears, will add that to my list!

     
  2. Well organized recipe to follow, with additional tips to help make the flavours pop! The photos make me want to make your venison dish asap. Thank you!

     

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