Venison and gravy served over a helping of garlic-mashed potatoes is about as good as it gets, and it’s pretty easy to make.
Start by cutting some venison steaks or a roast into half-inch strips and let them sit until they reach room temperature. Season liberally with salt and fresh-ground black pepper and roll in flour. Next, brown the meat in a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet in a olive oil.
When the strips are seared, remove them to a small oven roaster and add to the skillet:
A small onion, chopped
Soften the onion, then add it to the roaster. Pour about a cup of homemade venison stock (or low-sodium beef broth) into the roaster. Add two bay leaves. You want enough stock to cover about half an inch deep in the roaster.
On the stovetop, bring the stock or broth to a boil uncovered, then cover and place in a 250-degree oven for two or three hours.
While the venison is braising, combine in a small skillet:
1 stick of butter
8 tablespoons of flour
Over very low heat, stir the flour-butter until it turns a deep shade of brown. This is a dark roux and we’ll use it to thicken the gravy later. Once the roux is done, place it in a plastic Ziploc container and refrigerate.
To make the garlic mashed potatoes, start by placing one clove of garlic (unpeeled) per potato in a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, add salt and pepper and seal the foil thoroughly. Place the foil packet in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until you can smell the garlic. Remove and reserve the meat of the garlic.
When it’s time to make the potatoes, mash until smooth with the garlic, heavy cream, butter and salt and white pepper.
To make the gravy, heat the skillet used to brown the meat and add half a cup of brandy, stirring up all the caramelized bits off the bottom of the skillet. When the brandy has all but evaporated, add the braising liquid from the roaster (removing the bay leaves) and bring to a boil. Stir small amounts of the brown roux into the boiling gravy until it’s thickened, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat to low and add the meat and onions to the gravy. Pour the whole works over piles of mashed potatoes and serve with glazed carrots or your favorite vegetable.
One more thing: If you don’t tell your guests what they’re eating, I’ll bet they never guess it’s venison.