A Recipe From the Chef: Craig Thornton's "Wolves in the Snow" | Squid Ink | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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A Recipe From the Chef: Craig Thornton's "Wolves in the Snow"

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Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Wolves in the Snow - CALEB CHEN
  • Caleb Chen
  • Wolves in the Snow

If you've been reading our Q&A with Wolvesden chef Craig Thornton (in two parts), you've probably noticed that he's not the sort of person to give us a recipe for, say, eggs Benedict -- that is, unless as some Pollock-esque re-imagining. So it shouldn't surprise you to see that, instead, he gave us his recipe for "Wolves in the Snow," a dish which he refers to as "a wolf attack-scene on a plate." To pull of the dish, Thornton uses venison to replicate the sort of meat a wolf might eat; the blood is a beet and blackberry gastrique; and the snow is a creamy cauliflower purée. Something, perhaps, to be made for your next date night? Turn the page for the recipe.

Wolves in the Snow

From: Craig Thornton of Wolvesden

Serves: 4-6

Venison:

2 lbs. venison tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and brought to room temperature

salt to taste

pepper (crack a good amount of pepper onto the venison after cooking)

grape seed or canola oil

basting kit: 2 tablespoons butter; thyme; and 2 garlic cloves crushed with the skin left on

1. Heat oven to 300°F

2. Add a decent amount of oil to a large, hot pan.

3. Season venison with salt and a small amount of black pepper. Add venison to the pan and brown on all sides. Then place the pan in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until rare to medium rare (any more and the meat will taste overly gamey and iron-y).

4. Remove pan from oven, and add basting kit into the pan. Once the butter is melted, spoon it over the meat. Baste for about two minutes.

5. Take venison out of the pan and let rest for 8-10 minutes. Season with black pepper.

Cauliflower purée

1 head cauliflower (with a few pieces reserved and left raw)

salt to taste

milk (to cover)

1 tablespoons lemon juice

small pinch of sugar

1. Cut the head into florets, about 2-inch pieces.

2. Place in a pan, cover with milk, and season with salt and sugar. Cook until soft enough to blend.

3. Remove cauliflower from pan, add to blender, and blend. Add cooking liquid as needed, until you have a slightly thick purée. Adjust seasoning to taste, then set aside along with lemon juice (which will be used for final plating).

Raw cauliflower

reserved raw cauliflower

salt to taste

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs lemon juice

small pinch of sugar

1. Chop the cauliflower roughly.

2. Combine remaining ingredients, then use them to dress the raw cauliflower. Set aside.

Blackberry beet "gastrique"

1 cup beet juice (preferably from freshly juiced beets)

1 pint blackberries

Banyuls vinegar to taste

salt to taste

sugar to taste

1 sheet gelatin, or ¼ packet powdered gelatin

1. Place beet juice in small pan and reduce over low heat (a higher heat will give you a bitter flavor).

2. Take your blackberries and put them through a food mill, or crush them and force them through a fine strainer. Do not blend the blackberries, as you do not want the flavor of crushed blackberry seeds.

3. Once the beet juice is reduced by half, add the blackberry purée. Season to taste, adjusting the vinegar and sugar for a sweet-and-sour flavor, adding a little salt to sharpen the flavors.

4. Once seasoned, bloom your gelatin sheet, or powdered gelatin, in water.

5. Lightly heat your sauce, keeping below 120°F (you want it just barely heated enough for the gelatin to dissolve, but also to not kill the raw blackberry flavor).

6. Mix in your gelatin. Once dispersed, adjust seasoning again, then store and set aside.

Douglas fir

2 packets of Douglas fir pine needle tea

1 cup water

sugar to taste

1 sheet gelatin or ¼ pkt powdered gelatin

1. Make Douglas fir tea.

2. Strain, then season with sugar.

3. Bloom your gelatin.

4. Mix in gelatin, let cool, then set mixture aside.

Hen of the woods mushroom

2 package hen of the woods mushroom

grape seed or canola oil

salt to taste

butter to taste

1 tablespoons chopped shallot

1. Heat large sauté pan with oil.

2. Add mushrooms, but do not move the pan or touch the mushrooms. Let them sit, and gain color on one side (by seasoning later, the mushrooms will retain more liquid).

3. Add a spoonful of butter and the shallots, then let cook for a few minutes. Season, and set aside until plating.

Final plating

1. Warm the cauliflower purée, add lemon juice, then adjust seasoning.

2. Take Douglas fir sauce, and put about ½ tbs on the plate.

3. Rip venison apart with two forks, which will act as sharp teeth.

4. Place cauliflower purée on the plate.

5. Lay mushrooms, scattered, on the plate.

6. Lay down the venison, then sprinkle the raw cauliflower, letting it fall wherever.

7. Attack the plate with your blackberry beet "blood." If you don't get "agro," then your plate will reflect that, and who will believe that you, or a wolf, killed this thing?

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