I grew up eating a lot of game. My Dad would often come in through the front door with a pheasant slung over his shoulder and rabbit stew with dumplings was one of the staple comfort foods of my childhood. We often ate venison, too. Game is tasty, low in fat and cholesterol and can be eaten sustainably, each year.
To celebrate the start of the game season, I was sent a couple of bottles of wine from Côtes du Rhône, which, I was told, would both pair perfectly with game. I decided to cook up a venison steak and try them out.
The first, a Château Saint-Roch (2009), was full-bodied and had a dark, peppery note to it. For £7.95 a bottle, it was bold in flavour but because I don't drink a lot of wine normally, I couldn't sit and just leisurely pour a couple of glasses of this for myself. It had a really rich flavour and was perfect for sipping with dinner. At the end of cooking the steak it was this wine that I used to de-glaze the pan and pour over the finished dish.
The second, a Château de la Gardine (2009) was more expensive, at £13.95 a bottle and richer in flavour still. I actually preferred the flavour of this wine alongside my steak - somehow the sharpness of the wine cleared the flavour of the meat between each mouthful, but then kept building as I ate, which added flavour to the whole meal. I loved it.
Pan-Fried Venison Steak with Côtes du Rhône
- 2 venison steaks
- a little olive oil
- salt and pepper
- half a glass of Côtes du Rhône Château Saint-Roch (or other variety)
- If they've been in the fridge, take the venison steaks out to come to room temperature before cooking.
- Heat up a non-stick frying pan large enough to comfortably hold both the steaks. Rub a little oil into the steaks, sprinkle with salt and pepper and gently place them in the pan - it should sizzle.
- Cook the steaks for about 3-4 minutes on each side. This will give you very tender, medium-cooked steaks that are still purplish-pink in the middle. Adjust the times to how you like your venison.
- When cooked, take the steaks out and place on a warmed plate to rest. Meanwhile, slosh the wine into the pan and using a silicone or wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up any caramelised meat residues that have stuck to the bottom of the pan, incorporating into the wine. You'll find that the wine will quickly reduce and turn thicker. Spoon some of this over the steaks and serve, with mashed potato and vegetables.
For more information about the different styles and types of Côtes du Rhône wines, visit www.vins-rhone.com