venison tenderloin with a fig and balsamic reduction – seeing what my camera sees

Molly's Lane

I want to see what my camera sees.

Sound strange? If I hadn’t spent the last three years constantly looking through my camera lens, it would sound strange to me. When I take pictures, I’m usually focusing on the subject matter at hand. A pork chop, a cup cake – what have you – whatever I’m writing about that day. When I look at the photos on my computer following the shoot, I’m amazed at what I didn’t see while taking the shot. In the beginning, it was the light. I was always looking for it. For two years my shots were flat and lifeless until I figured it out.

Recently Dad said, “what are you really trying to photograph”?

What’s that mean? I’m taking a picture of a toad stool.

“Are you”?

Dad likes to leave me puzzling…

Then I got it. Or I should say my camera got it. As I was reviewing my shots, I started to see little treasures that the camera caught as happy surprises. I took a dozen shots of this toad stool. Only one caught the sunlight illuminating the tiny teeth marks on the cap.

Autumn Sunlight

I finally built up the courage to roast the venison tenderloin that Dad gave me. I jumped over my cooking wild meat mental block and invited a bunch of carnivore friends over for dinner. I roasted the tenderloin to medium rare, served it with a fig and balsamic vinegar reduction and sauteed chanterelle mushrooms on the side. Most of my guests had only ever had venison cooked in the typical Maritime tradition – grey.

A nervous hush fell over the table, as I laid the plates in front of my now silent guests. A toast to friendship then the first brave bite… It was delicious! Relief and smiles all round, as we devoured the entire tenderloin.

And so ends my journey to conquer wild meat. I’ve spent a lifetime actively avoiding any offer of it. Not any more…

Good luck Dad!


VENISON TENDERLOIN WITH A FIG BALSAMIC REDUCTION

1 venison tenderloin, trimmed and silver skin removed

THE STEPS

Marinade:
1 tablespoon juniper berries
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cups extra virgin olive oil

  • Pour marinade over tenderloin, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Remove from fridge and place tenderloin on a baking sheet.
  • Preheat oven 425*F

Rub:
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

  • Place fennel and peppercorns in a spice grinder and grind coarse.
  • Mix fennel/peppercorn mixture with salt and rosemary.
  • Sprinkle all over tenderloin, patting herb mixture to ensure it sticks to the meat.
  • Place tenderloin in preheated oven and roast 26 minutes for medium rare – using a meat thermometer is always foolproof
  • Remove tenderloin from oven. Cover with aluminium foil for 15 minutes.
  • Carve and serve.

Reduction:
1 250 ml jar fig jam
¼ cup balsamic vinegar

  • Place ingredients in small sauce pan over medium high heat.
  • Stir constantly until jam has completely melted.
  • Serve with the tenderloin.

THE LOVE: Be sure that you start with a perfect venison tenderloin. There’s no saving a gamey piece of meat!

printable recipe

one year ago: chunky chicken and apple soup au cheddar gratin

two years ago: still kickin’ around Italy

Thanks for reading.

  • Joe

    Michelle, I know this is a food blog and I’m positive the deer meat or moose meat was to die for but I would be proud to say I shot that Toad stool! Fine job!

  • The photos are amazing. The mushroom one looks like it came right out of a fairy tale! And love the venison. Still need to get my hands on some and hopefully I can try this recipe. Love venison, figs and balsamic. What’s to loose?

  • I’ve yet to cook anything like venison, I will be on the look out for it now! I love taking photos and having the joy of seeing the perfect shot (out of dozens) jump out at me when downloading them:) But yes, at some family event, I feel like I’m not participating or seeing because I’ve got my camera between myself and the fun, lol!

    • It’s so true! Sometimes I feel like I’m watching my life…

  • Your dad sounds like a very wise man. And that mushroom is one of the best pictures I have seen in a really long time. And I look at a LOT of well photographed blogs!

  • your shots are utterly beautiful!

  • Whatever you’re doing with your photography, you’re doing it right! I’m just moving to a DSLR and I have a lot to learn! I hope I can create the kind of images you share! ~ Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, Photography does not come easily to me. I work hard, experiment a lot and little by little I’m learning. Have fun with your new camera.