Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

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Tony Aspler, Wine writer

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Gastronomically yours,

Nothing cooks like a Deer

Venison is a term used to describe any meat harvested from moose, elk, and caribou. Antelope and gazelles also fall under the name of venison. Venison is a dark red, fine grained meat. It is exceptionally lean and what fat it does contain is quite high in polyunsaturates.

As a child I never did understand why my father and his friends would travel to northern Ontario every year to go deer hunting. Besides the fun he would have and the time spent “in camp” with his lifelong buddies I just never figured out why anyone would expend so much energy on bringing home venison for the purpose of serving it to other people to eat. I grew up fearing dinner at anyone’s home who announced that venison was on the dinner menu. It was always served covered with an unpalatable amount of onions or garlic to cover up its gamey flavour. It was also either cooked beyond recognition in an attempt to make it tender or ground up into sausage with bacon to compensate for venison’s exceptionally lean characteristics.

Now that I’m older and have a greater understanding of foods I have come to appreciate venison and how to properly prepare it. Of all the big game meats, the most extreme variation in flavour does occur in venison. Depending on the species, its age, how and where the animal is harvested from are the main influences on its flavour. Deer that graze in farmers fields on corn are probably a nuisance to the farmer but are my preference to eat as they tend to have a more mellow flavour opposed to those harvested from Northern Ontario that grow up eating twigs, bark and cedar as they tend to taste like twigs, bark and cedar.

With bow hunting season for deer having recently ended you either have a freezer full of venison or as luck may have it you’re deer-less.

If you fall in the latter category or for those of you who are curious about venison Antler Acres is a local producer of antibiotic and hormone free elk. Wild or farmed, Kawartha venison makes for a terrific ingredient in this weeks recipe for an Asian style dumplings.

Venison Dumplings

2 cupsNapacabbage shredded

1tsp salt

1 lb ground elk, or pork

4 green onions minced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 egg beaten

1tbsp ginger grated

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp pepper

 

For the filling:

In a medium sized bowl toss together the cabbage with the salt. Allow the cabbage to rest for 20 minutes. Squeeze the excess liquid out of the cabbage, allowing it to remain moist but not wet. In a large bowl combine the cabbage with remaining ingredients. Mix the ingredients together by hand until evenly incorporated. This yields enough filling for 5 dozen dumplings.

For the Dumplings

2 packages of Chinese dumpling wrappers

¼ cup cornstarch

1 cup of water

Lightly dust a baking sheet with the cornstarch. Using your finger, wet the edge of the wrapper with water. Place 2 tsp. of the filling in the centre, fold the wrapper over and pinch the edges together. Pleat the edge by pinching the wrapper a few times around its edge. Stand the finished dumplings on the dusted baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel.

Dumplings can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to six hours. You may choose to freeze the dumplings uncovered on a tray, once frozen transfer them to an airtight container and store frozen for up to three months.

The dumplings may be cooked fresh or from frozen by steaming, boiling or frying. My preference is to fry them. Pre-heat a cast iron or non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil and fill the pan with dumplings but do not allow them to touch. After 2-3 minutes of frying, pour ½ cup of water into pan and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook covered until dry and all splattering ceases. Remove lid and fry until bottoms are golden brown. Serve with rice vinegar, soy and chilli sauces for dipping.

 

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