I know a lot of people hunt for trophy deer, the bucks with the big racks. I don’t. I am always looking for a yearling. A small deer that is tender and mild in flavor. For me it is the difference between lamb and mutton. I have eaten mutton but would always choose lamb over mutton if given the choice.
When I do kill a deer the first part of the animal I eat is the liver. It is so, so good. Something about it does it for me, it feels nourishing to eat this part of the animal when it is at its freshest.
For the pickled onions:
1 bunch scallions, roots trimmed and whites cut into 2 1/2 inch lengths. You want twelve pieces.
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar, do not use the seasoned kind
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
For the liver:
4 pieces venison, or other, liver, cut 1/2 inch thick, the are small but very rich, you can up the amount if needed
4 pieces speck or good smoked bacon
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup flour, for dredging
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons pickled onion liquid
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup carrot, small dice
1/2 cup onion, small dice
1 1/2 cup fresh peas
1. Place the scallions, in a single layer, in a small heat proof container. In a saucepan bring the water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil. Pour over the scallions and set aside to cool. This can be done up to a day in advance.
2. Season the venison with salt and set on a rack over a sheet tray with sides. This will catch the juices.
3. Combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, mustard and pickling juice in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Reserve 8 of the pickled scallion batons and chop, should have 4, the rest and combine with the dressing.
5. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. As the fat starts to render turn up the heat. Cook until nicely crisp. Remove the bacon and the pan from the heat. Place the bacon on a paper towel lined oven proof plate or tray.
6. In another pot add the butter, onion and carrots. When the onions start to wilt add kosher salt and pepper. Then add 2 cups of water. Let the carrots cook until tender.
7. Place the plate with the bacon into the oven. Season the liver with pepper, remember you already salted them. Dredge the liver pieces through the flour and shake off any excess. Place the bacon pan back on the stove over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of safflower oil.
8. When the oil is hot, gently place the liver into the pan.
9. Place the peas into the carrot and onion pot and turn the heat to medium high.
10. Once the venison pieces are nicely browned turn them. Be careful not to over cook the liver. Cook medium rare to medium at most.
11. To plate. Place a smear of the sauce onto a plate. Using a slotted spoon place a nice helping of peas next to it. Place a piece of venison liver onto the sauce. Top with bacon and garnish with pickled spring onions.