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Sicilian-Style Venison Tenderloin

A web-exclusive recipe from Big Sky Country
Published: June 5, 2013
“Open Range,” by Jay Bentley and Patrick Dillon (Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group, October 2012).

This is a variation of a bison recipe that also appears in “Open Range,” and it was featured by author Jay Bentley’s friend, the late A.J. McLane, in Esquire’s “Man at His Best.” It is a great way to do any red meat tenderloins: beef, antelope, and even pork or lamb. With venison, Jay has the best results when he makes medallions out of the backstraps or tenderloins. The blend of sweet wine and tomatoes with the salty anchovies and capers evokes the taste of Sicily. Simple, fast and great! It goes well with penne dressed with toasted garlic, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. Add a crispy green salad, crusty bread, and a bottle of good Chianti or some other soft and fruity red wine. Makes 4 servings.

2    pounds venison from the tenderloins, or backstrap sliced into 1½-inch-thick pieces
6    tablespoons olive oil, divided
1    tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
3    tablespoons tomato paste
3    tablespoons capers, drained
1    tablespoon chopped anchovies or anchovy paste
1    cup sweet marsala

1. Pat venison dry and put it in a shallow dish. Toss in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the black pepper. Marinate for 1 hour.

2. Preheat a 10–12-inch sauté pan or cast-iron skillet over high heat and add the rest of the oil. When the oil is smoking, add the venison and allow the hot oil to form a crust. Don’t touch the meat for at least 4 minutes, and when you turn it, slide a spatula under the meat to preserve the crust. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side until rare to medium-rare.

3. Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside to keep warm. Add the tomato paste, capers, and anchovies to the pan and deglaze with the wine.

4. Stir and cook until the volume is reduced by half, about 3–5 minutes. Return the venison to the pan, spooning the reduced sauce over the meat. Cook until the meat is reheated and coated with the sauce, and then serve.

Recipe provided with permission from “Open Range,” by Jay Bentley and Patrick Dillon (Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group, October 2012).

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