This dish (serves four) features a rich, tangy sauce that sets off the taste of the venison. Serve with a side dish of buttered noodles, a big green salad or steamed vegetables, some crusty bread and a good bottle of red wine. Use top-quality steaks from any hoofed big game for this dish; the steaks should be at least 1 inch thick and are best when served rare to medium-rare.
- 4 tender venison or other big-game steaks, 4 to 6 ounces each and about
- 1 inch thick (or substitute two 8- to 12-ounce steaks, about 1 inch thick)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 tablespoon green peppercorns packed in brine, drained
- 1 cup heavy cream
Heat oven to 300°F. Pat steaks dry with paper towels; season liberally with salt and pepper. In large heavy skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add steaks. Cook until nicely browned on first side, about 3 minutes. Turn steaks with tongs; cook until second side is browned and meat is not quite to desired doneness. (The meat will continue to cook slightly while you make the sauce, so you shouldn't cook it all the way at this point.) Transfer steaks to plate; keep warm in oven.
Pour off all but a small film of fat from skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add brandy; cook, stirring constantly, until brandy has cooked down and skillet is almost dry. Add peppercorns; mash with fork. Add cream. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until cream is reduced by half to a sauce-like consistency, 4 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste (start with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black pepper, and add more as needed). Serve sauce over steaks. Quick tip: Steaks from the backstrap are an excellent choice for this because they're naturally tender; however, steaks of the proper weight might be too thick because the diameter of the backstrap is small. The best solution is to make butterflied steaks: slice off a steak that is twice as thick as you want, then carefully cut it almost all the way through into two thinner halves. You can then open up the steak like opening a book; the opened butterflied steak will be twice the diameter of the original backstrap.