When the World Gives You Venison Liver…

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…make something impressive, even elegant like the country pate’ (terrine) I found from ChefSteps! So many times, we scour the internet (or cookbooks for those who like to go “old school”) for new ways to serve up our harvested wild game meat. For years, when I wanted recipes for the meat that filled my freezer, I looked for “venison”, or “wild hog”, etc. Not so many years ago, pickins’ were pretty slim when it came to wild game-specific recipes. As internet cooking sites became more common, so did the choices for recipes that featured wild game. To broaden the spectrum even further, being able to make ingredient substitutions and improvise methods and utensils can do exactly that. It was with that mindset that I sought my recipe for Venison Liver Pate’.

I first came across venison liver terrine at St. George’s Market in Belfast, on a trip to Northern Ireland a couple of years ago. It was made from divine, sumptuous game meats coarsely ground, mixed with delicate spices that complement the flavors, and a touch of sweetness from dried fruits, all neatly wrapped in a blanket of bacon. 

Terrine is a dish to be savored, sliced thinly, served with crackers, or alone, with a complement of mustard, cheese, or fruit.  Basically, it elevates and celebrates venison liver. And I HAD a vension liver!

When I returned from my trip, I scoured the internet for country pate’ recipes that could be easily adapted to my needs, ingredients I had on hand, and utensils that I already owned.

I was thrilled when I came across a recipe from Chefsteps here that checked all the boxes. There was even a video! The ingredients seemed similar to those I’d encountered on my trip. It piqued my interest because, not only did it very closely resemble the terrine I’d had during my trip, it used a sous vide water bath as the cooking method. I absolutely love using mine and was eager to try it on the venison liver I had in the freezer. However, I had to make a few adjustments.

I don’t own a terrine mold and the sous vide immersion water circulator used in the recipe (Joule) worked a little differently from the one I own. My Anova requires deeper water than was best suited for this recipe and two mini loaf pans would surely work as a substitution for the terrine pan.

 Undaunted, I decided to go ahead and give this recipe a try. I adjusted the ingredients according to my personal preferences. I switched out the pork liver for venison, used currants instead of dried cherries, and replaced the Sauternes with cognac because that’s what I had (and I like cognac). Even though my sous vide didn’t circulate water in the same way as the one in the video, and I didn’t have a terrine pan, I was now on a mission and would concoct something that would work!

Let me say at this point that the purpose of this post is not to share the recipe. It is clearly and beautifully explained and photographed by ChefSteps. It is, however, to share my thought process regarding adjusting, improvising, and substituting in order to utilize recipes that might be otherwise overlooked.

I assembled my improvised equipment (which included my designated sous vide pot with two mini loaf pans stacks to create the height I needed to balance the additional two that would hold my terrine):

and my ingredients (which include the curing salt which is the same as Prague Powder #1 and a mortar and pestle that are a substitution for the spice grinder):

and began the work according to the very thorough and easy-to-understand instructions:

The directions were very straight-forward and clarified any questions that I had. Be sure to watch the video and read the step-by step.

Junior Deerslayer and I worked on this project in her kitchen with the Kitchenaid grinder that she got from Mom. 😉 The grinder was mentioned as part of the recommended equipment. I have to say that it worked flawlessly and that we both agreed wholeheartedly that it’s absolutely worth spending the extra money for the metal rather than plastic grinder attachment.

Once again, the point here is that there are so many amazing recipes for preparing your wild game. Don’t be put off by not having all the equipment or exactly the same ingredients (within reason, of course). Don’t be afraid to substitute or improvise. That’s really part of the fun!

Junior Deerslayer and I had an absolute blast. The process, while labor-intensive, was rewarding, impressive, delicious, and worth the effort.

I’d love to know your thoughts or questions you have. Please share experiences you’ve had!

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