Pan-Seared Venison Filets with Balsamic Cream Sauce


1 lb. venison backstrap, cut into 4 filets approx. 2 inches thick
2/3 cup plus 2 T. balsamic vinegar, divided
2 T. olive oil, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. crumbled dried tarragon

2 tsp. multicolored peppercorns

Moisten venison filets with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and let rest up to 30 minutes. Use a paper towel to rub a tablespoon of the olive oil into a warm, medium cast-iron skillet. Add salt to skillet and rub with same paper towel. Discard salt. Add the second tablespoon of the oil to skillet and place over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add filets and sear on both sides, then continue cooking until filets are not quite desired doneness, turning as needed. Transfer filets to warm plate; cover loosely and set aside.

Add remaining 2/3 cup vinegar to hot skillet, scraping to loosen any browned bits. Cook over high heat until vinegar is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Add cream, tarragon and peppercorns to skillet and continue cooking until liquid is reduced to about half volume. Reduce heat to simmer and return filets to skillet. Turn filets several times to warm and coat with sauce. Transfer filets to heated serving platter. Pour sauce into gravy boat, straining to remove peppercorns and tarragon if desired.

Serve immediately.

Note: Venison filets are best served medium-rare; avoid cooking to well-done. Not only is this a very special main course for favorite guests, this is also a magnificent Valentine’s Day dinner. Pair it up with wild rice, fresh green beans with slivered toasted almonds, a dry red wine, and a chocolate dessert.

C.T. Rybka
Port Tobacco, MD

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