There is a beauty to crafting beautiful food with your own hands for the people you love. And it is even more beautiful when you’ve spent the time in the woods, in nature, and prayerfully respect and appreciate the nourishing qualities of a life well and wildly spent. Certainly it takes a little more time, a little more effort, but it is the food of love.
Michael Psilakis mentions that this venison sausage is a play on a Greek Cypriot sausage called tseftelia. It is delicious paired on a platter of meze and eaten with one’s fingers.
makes 9 2-ounce sausages, perfect for meze
2 (1/4-inch thick) slices Spanish or sweet onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 juniper berries
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
12 ounces ground venison, from the leg
6 ounces fatty, coarse-ground pork or fatback
2 teaspoons Garlic puree (see below)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
large pinch dry Greek oregano
1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
About 3 ounces pork caul fat (if bought frozen, soak the caul fat overnight in salted water and squeeze dry before using) or sausage casing
Lemon wedges and Extra virgin olive oil, or Tsatziki
1/4 cup loosely packed, fresh picked herbs, such as dill, mint and/or parsley
Brush the onion slices with a little olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper. On a hot grill pan or in a cast iron skillet, grill the onion until tender. Separate into rings and finely chop.
Toast the seeds and juniper berries in a preheated 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes. Transfer to a spice mill and grind to a powder (you will not use all of it).
In a large bowl, combine the grilled onion, 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture, and the venison, pork, Garlic puree, mustard, honey, oregano, parsley and orange zest. Season liberally with salt and pepper. With clean hands, combine the mixture evenly, and form 9 football-shaped sausages.
Wrap each sausage in a single layer of caul fat, trimming off any extra bits and pieces. If you like, refrigerate the sausages on a rack, uncovered, for 2 hours; this will help dry the surface and give you an even better sear on the grill.
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill, or ridged cast-iron grill pan, until very hot. Brush the sausages lightly with a little olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper. Grill until firm and char-marked all over. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with some lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, or top with a spoonful of Tsatziki. Scatter with picked fresh herbs.
(By the way, you really must get your hands on a copy of How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking if only for the Garlic Confit recipe on page 264. Amazing. An abbreviated version is available here, but the recipe in the book goes into a little more detail – and makes a bit more. Oh, and have I mentioned he also shares recipes for chickpea confit, fennel confit, leek confit and artichoke confit? I can think of about 427 ways to use those in the kitchen. Yum.)
Substitute this puree for butter to finish and emulsify pan sauces, in addition to countless other uses.
About 1 cup cloves garlic from Garlic Confit
With a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic cloves to a cutting board, allowing all of the oil to drain back into the container. Chop the garlic fine (or puree it in a mini food processor). Film with confit oil and store in the refrigerator.