Citizens, today is a very rare and special day indeed!
You may not know much about your beloved Generalissimo, but the time has come to let you in on one of my secrets – I am a true phantom of the Internet, famous (or perhaps infamous) for being a rather public figure with no pictures of me on the Internet – anywhere.
Despite more than 20 years of my career in tech PR at Sony, Apple and elsewhere here in Silicon Valley, I remain a faceless ghost, and happily so! An article about my quest to remain faceless over the decades was written up in Fast Company Magazine a few months ago – you can read it here.
Today, I have been covered in stories all over the world as part of my dream to inform people about the importance of online privacy – and nowhere more extensively than France, perhaps the most progressive country on Earth when it comes to this important topic. More than a dozen stories have been written on me in France over the last few months, including Le Monde, the great French newspaper of record and tonight, on the fantastic late night TV show “L’émission d’Antoine“.
To all the new French visitors to the site – bienvenue et “Je suis Charlie!”. 🙂
It has been an honor to be interviewed for the show, and to celebrate, today I give you one of the most classic of French dishes – a civet, or stew, of Venison!
Civet is specifically a French stew containing game, with the meats marinated in red wine for long periods of time, then stewed with pearl onions and bacon. The sauce is traditionally thickened with blood, but that is a method not used much anymore. TFD laughs at those who attempt to make a “civet” without this essential ingredient, however – and I have decided to use the rather innovative approach of using ground blood sausages as an easier to obtain and delicious alternative to the fresh ingredient.
If you’re a hunter, you’re in for a gastronomic treat of the first order for your newly-obtained meat – if not, you can easily obtain venison in some supermarkets or by mail-order.
Thank you, mes amis, for your interest in a private man with a very public message about the importance of keeping your identity secure – et vive la France! 😀
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 ½ kg / 3 lbs boneless venison, cut into cubes
1 boudin noir sausage, casing removed and crumbled
125 g / ¼ pound chicken liver, finely diced
1 tbsp. heavy cream
2 medium carrots, grated
1 large onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated
Small bunch fresh parsley
1 sprig of rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
8 juniper berries, roughly crushed
2 Bay leaves
15 black peppercorns, roughly crushed
1 bottle Côtés du Rhône Red wine
¼ cup Armagnac (preferred) or VSOP cognac
125 g / ¼ lbs bacon or lardons, in small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons duck fat or goose fat
2 Tablespoons rye or whole wheat flour
15 to 20 shallots, peeled
2 Tablespoons butter
125 g / ¼ lb dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1 pint of game stock (preferred) or beef stock and sliced – reserve soaking liquid!
125 g / ¼ lb fresh morels, chanterelles or porcini mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon Tabasco or to taste
2 Tablespoons VSOP cognac
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour the brandy and the wine into a pot and bring to a boil. Let it boil for a few minutes to burn off most of the alcohol. Turn off the heat.
Combine venison, carrots, onion, garlic, 2 sprigs of parsley, Rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, juniper, peppercorns Armagnac and wine in a large bowl.
Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours to tenderize the meat.
Preheat oven to 160 C / 325 F.
Take venison out of the refrigerator at least one hour before cooking it.
Sauté the lardons or bacon in a dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside.
Remove the venison from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels.
Strain the marinade into a bowl, saving the herbs and vegetables, set aside.
Season the meat with salt and pepper, dust with flour.
Add duck or goose fat to the bacon fat in the pot, increase heat to medium high.
Add the venison and brown on all sides; work in batches so as not to crowd the pot.
Return all meat to the pot, sprinkle additional flour, add bacon.
Cook, stirring constantly for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved marinade.
Bring to a boil.
Cover and place in oven for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Once the venison is supremely tender, carefully remove it from the pot and set aside to cool.
While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat.
Add mushrooms and shallots and cook for about 8 minutes.
While the meat is cooling, run everything left in the pot through a food mill with a medium plate. If you don’t have a food mill, run it through a food processor or use an immersion blender.
If you are doing this without a food mill, you really should push the blended mix through a sieve or chinois.
Clean the Dutch oven, or get another large, lidded pot.
Return the strained, blended stew to the pot, and add the Tabasco, the mushrooms and shallots.
Bring this to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the onions are nice and soft.
Return the pieces of venison to the pot and retest for salt. Add generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper.
About 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, add the cognac and mushroom soaking liquid – be careful, there may be grit in it.
Blend the liver, the blood sausage and the heavy cream together in a food processor or blender.
Turn off the heat on the stew. Wait until you see no movement of the stew from simmering or boiling, then add a ladleful of the stew to the blood-liver-heavy cream mix. Stir well. Do this again. Now pour the mixture into the stewpot and gently stir it in to combine.
You will be amazed at how well the stew just thickened. DO NOT LET THIS BOIL.
Serve at once, topped with chopped parsley and accompanied by crusty bread, a green salad, and a superb red wine.