Connor Gabbott spent the first 20 years of his career in various restaurant kitchens across British Columbia. Since picking up a rifle and harvesting his first deer in 2010, Connor has set out to combine his love for food and wild places by sharing the stories of his adventures and how they provide meals for the table. We had Connor tell us about a few of his favorite recipes that we can take into our own kitchens at home. This is the first of a three part series.
Off the coast of B.C., sitting in the Pacific, lies an archipelago of over 140 islands that together are known as Haida Gwaii. In the late part of the nineteenth century, as the islands were being settled and the logging operations were hitting full stride, Sitka Blacktail deer were introduced to help provide a source of protein for the settlers. With no natural competition or predation, the deer population exploded and in short order began to have a significant impact on the native vegetation. As a result, the season is now almost nine months long and bag limits are very liberal.
Hunting big game in the summer months is a little unusual in this part of the world but it affords the opportunity to eat some of the best game meat out there. In the Fall, when most big game hunting takes place, game animals are browsing on vegetation that is well past its prime. Instead of lush greenery they are forced to eat old woody shoots and dried out grasses. To eat venison that has been grazing on nothing but lush alpine grasses is something to go out of your way for. When the opportunity arose for me to go North to pursue these cagey, diminutive deer on Haidas Gwaii I jumped at the chance. In return I was rewarded with 60 pounds of the best tasting meat I have ever eaten. The steaks in this recipe come from a Haida Gwaii Sitka Blacktail deer.
Prep Time: 5 Minutes, Makes 2 servings
1 lb Venison cutlets. Use leg muscles such as the eye of round or inside round and cut 1/2” thick, cross-grain cutlets.
2 Tablespoons Oil, grapeseed
2 Shallots, finely diced
2 sprigs Thyme
3 Teaspoons Green peppercorns, drained and chopped
3 Teaspoons Worchestire sauce
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Beef stock. Substitute store bought bouillon if necessary. I would suggest the brand “Better than Bouillion”
1/2 cup Butter, cut into cubes
1. Season the cutlets on both sides with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan over medium high heat until the oil begins to smoke.
3. Sear the cutlets in the pan until they turn a dark walnut brown.
4. Flip the cutlets and cook to your preferred temperature.
5. Remove the cutlets from the pan, set aside somewhere warm and cover with aluminum foil.
6. Return the pan to low heat, add the shallots and thyme and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
7. Add the mustard, Worchestire sauce and beef stock to the pan and bring to a simmer.
8. Pull the pan off the heat and allow to cool until the liquid is very warm but not hot.
9. Return the pan to low heat and working 5 cubes at a time, add the butter to the pan and swirl until the butter is emulsified into the sauce. It is better to start this process with a pan that is too cool and bring it up to temperature rather than add the butter to a pan that is too hot, this will result in a split sauce.
10. Once the butter is emulsified, repeat with the next 5 cubes and continue this process until all the butter is incorporated into the sauce.
11. Plate the cutlets and drizzle the sauce all over top and around the plate.
Serving Suggestions: Almost nothing goes better with a steak than a baked potato but I want to give you a couple twists on this classic. Instead of using the traditional potato, try using personal size baked yams and top them with the usual suspects and then add minced jalapeño or even pickled jalapeño. You can thank me later.
See more from Connor at Talus Creative and follow him on Instagram