Give deer season a new roll with this tangy venison dish.
In 2013, Gary Kucy was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as a semifinalist for Best Chef of the Northwest, and he works harder than most to source ingredients locally. In part, because he has to: His restaurant, Rupert’s at Hotel McCall in McCall, Idaho, is located 100 miles from Boise.
“We are the new pioneers of bringing food up to this area,” he says. “We’re taking what’s here and putting a more modern spin on it.”
Kucy says getting fresh produce year-round is the hardest part. “I do a lot with the farmers here and from the Boise area. I have great connections, but their growing season is short. When I worked with Mark Miller [at Coyote Café in Santa Fe], I had a purveyor for anything I wanted to buy. I moved here, and it’s a learning curve. I just have to be more resourceful. Our venison comes from 5 miles down the road, but my venison guy just said, ‘Our butcher stopped for the winter and won’t be back until spring, so make it last!’ ”
Recipe: Venison Meatballs with Juniper-Pickled Red Cabbage
Juniper-Pickled Red Cabbage
3 cups finely shredded red cabbage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons juniper berries, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
In a small bowl, season cabbage with salt and mix thoroughly. Set aside for 10 – 15 minutes until cabbage is softened.
In a small sauce pot, bring to a rolling boil vinegar, water, sugar, juniper, and sage. Pour over salted cabbage and allow to cool and sit for 30 minutes or overnight. Once prepared, the cabbage will hold and improve with age for up to 7 days.
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
Whisk together all ingredients until well combined.
1 cup white onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon juniper berries, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped cup bread crumbs
1 pound ground venison
¼ pound ground beef (70/30)
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
In a large sauté pan, sweat the onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Add juniper and rosemary and continue to cook for just a minute or two until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.
In a mixing bowl large enough to hold all ingredients, mix together bread crumbs, eggs, and cooled onion mixture. By hand, mix in ground meats, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined. Cook off a small piece to check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Roll mixture into ½-ounce balls and place on cookie sheet. Par-bake in oven for 5 minutes at 375 degrees to set meat. Skewer par-cooked meatballs on bamboo skewers, approximately 5 meatballs per 6-inch skewer.
When ready to serve, cook over preheated grill until just hot throughout, or meat thermometer reads an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Serve over juniper-pickled red cabbage with a drizzle of the mustard dressing.
From the May/June 2015 issue.