Sometimes keeping things simple offers the best results and the purest expression of the flavor of the meat, and with meat as exceptional as this, this certainly is the case. This recipe applies all of the key takeaways learned during the testing process to render a well-seasoned juicy, tender blush pink roast that should make all of your dining companions smile.
RECIPE BY MARK COCKCROFT
- 1 Holiday Roast
- 1-1/2 Tbsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 2 Tbsp neutral oil (avocado works well), plus more as needed
- RECOMMENDED TOOLS: Rack + roasting pan and probe thermometer
Rub the roast all over with the salt at least 4 hours (preferably up to 24 hours) before getting ready to roast. Place roast on a tray and refrigerate. Optional: wrap roast tightly in plastic wrap as the salt initially draws out moisture from the roast but then reabsorbs juices mingled with the salt back into the roast, seasoning it throughout.
One hour before cooking, remove the roast from fridge and set aside while the oven preheats. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F.
Unwrap the roast, pat it dry with paper towels and set it on a rack in a roasting pan or baking dish. Now would be the time to insert any additional desired herb - garlic slivers, spice/herb paste (see below for recommendations). Brush all over with oil. Add a half cup of water to the pan and place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes.
Remove the roast and lower oven temp to 350°F. Carefully flip the roast over using tongs or a couple of folded up paper towels. Rotating the meat helps to keep it more evenly cooked, especially after a high temp phase. The roast should have the nice beginnings of a richly browned exterior. If it looks dry, go ahead and baste it with about Tbsp of oil. Add a little more water to the pan if it's dry, checking every half hour or so and replenishing as necessary.
If you have one, insert a probe thermometer so you can read the roast temperature as it cooks. If using a handheld probe thermometer, check the roast temp every 20-30 minutes. Cook until the desired degree of doneness: 130-135°F is recommended, but you can adjust up or down to your liking. Optional: you can flip the roast every half hour if you want maximum evenness during cooking.
When roast is ready, remove from oven and place on a cutting board. Let the roast rest at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes (20 is ideal).
Remove the netting with a sharp knife or kitchen shears and carve into slices around 1/4" thick. Have a taste and season with more salt as needed. Serve drizzled with any of the accumulated juices.
If you want to adventure further into flavor with your roast here are a couple of spice/herb rub and marinade ideas and a gravy that goes particularly well with venison. Feel free to take the flavors in any direction that sounds appealing. Some suggestions:
Garlic & Herb Rub
1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp crushed brown mustard seeds
2 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp dried ground sage
Neutral oil as needed (about 2 Tbsp)
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Carefully rub the mixture all over the roast after the high heat phase while the oven is cooling to 350°F. Gently baste the roast all over with oil to coat the herbs and spices. Return to the oven to finish cooking at 350°F until your desired doneness.
Citrus & Spice Marinade
This one really pops with flavor. Liquid shio koji is the secret weapon in this recipe that really brings a deep savoriness to the roast and makes the venison taste more inherently like itself. It is easily found online or in well-stocked Asian grocery stores. Use the marinade instead of salting the roast, preferably 24 hours before cooking.
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp juniper berries
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp freshly grated orange zest
2 tsp brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup liquid shio koji
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle coarsely grind the black peppercorns, juniper, and coriander, making sure not to reduce it to a fine powder. Add the mix to a large, heavy-duty and sealable plastic bag along with the rosemary, orange zest, brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, shio koji, and vinegar. Gently mix together to ensure even distribution.
Make a half dozen pokes deep into the roast with a kabob skewer to allow the marinade to penetrate and add the roast to the bag. Carefully squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag and seal tightly. Place the sealed bag in a container or pan to prevent spillage in case of leaks. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Take roast out 1 hour before cooking to allow it come to room temperature.
Remove the roast from the bag, reserving the marinade, and gently brush off any solids adhering to the roast. Place the roast on a rack over a roasting pan. Follow the cooking instructions for the basic roast. The only exception being it’s not necessary to pat the roast dry or brush the roast with oil. You also want to baste the roast with the marinade several times during the cooking but not during the last half an hour.
Makes about 2 cups
You could use another thickener like a cornstarch slurry if you wanted to make this gluten free. If you are not using the wine in the recipe I recommend a little splash of vinegar right at the end for a little spark to balance out the richness. Sherry, red/white wine, or apple cider vinegar all work well. This can be made well in advance or while the roast is cooking.
½ cup dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, morel or mix all work well)
1 cup boiling water
4 Tbsp butter or neutral oil
1 large shallot, minced
Fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
4 Tbsp AP flour
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
1 package Maui Nui venison broth or 2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 tsp soy sauce
Place the mushrooms in a heat proof bowl (a Pyrex measuring cup or a coffee mug work well) and pour the boiling water over them. Make sure they are submerged – you can rest something on top of the them like a spoon to ensure they all get rehydrated. Let sit for 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a cutting board, reserving the steeping liquid. Finely chop the mushrooms and set aside.
Place a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add the butter (or oil) and when melted add the shallots and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to let them color, adjusting the heat as necessary. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute.
Add flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for a couple of minutes and then add the wine. Whisk to incorporate -it will thicken fairly quicky. Cook for about a minute. Add the broth, chopped mushrooms, 1 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid (being careful not to add any sediment to the pot), and soy. Whisk to make sure there are no lumps. Bring to a low boil and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer.
Cook until it reaches a nice gravy consistency – it should coat the back of a spoon nicely and drip lusciously back into the pot as opposed to running thinly back and not sticking to a spoon. This could take 20 minutes or so. When it is ready check the seasonings adding more pepper, salt or soy as necessary. The gravy should not taste like soy so go easy on it but it does really pack the savory flavor which complements the mushrooms. Keep warm until service.