Photo | facebook.com/nothingbundtcakes
The Dallas-based Nothing Bundt Cakes opened last week at 3255 Airport Blvd. in front of Bel Air Mall. This is the fifth in Alabama, the first in Mobile. The in-house baked cakes come in 10 flavors and 40 unique designs. Enjoy 8-10 inch cakes, Bundtlets and bite-sized Buntinis.
The former Boo Radley’s is undergoing a conversion. Downtowners will soon enjoy Debris, a new po’boy restaurant. I can’t wait to see what the bread is like. I hope they offer a Ferdie or a Ralph with turtle soup!
It’s good to see some activity in a positive direction. Have your porch Mardi Gras. Watch your Super Bowl. Love your neighbor. Recycle.
A venison threeway
I’m no hunter. I suffered through elementary school tales told by the other boys, epic poetry of man versus beast, where the hero of the story was, without fail, the storyteller himself. Those kids from hunting families painted Monday morning visions of their weekend journeys through the woods, cologned in deer scent, fighting for survival, traversing canyons and climbing trees all for a shot at that “big buck.”
I hung onto every word, trying not to look too ignorant of the gibberish spewing from their mouths. I was in the minority — a kid who’d never shot a living creature, along with three others in my large class. Later I discovered, in the few times I shouldered a gun and left home before sunup for a shot at wild game (more like tagging along without a license), that hunting is sometimes nothing more than driving your friend’s mom’s Lincoln Town Car to sit in a plywood box facing a field just feet from the interstate. Lost were my romantic notions of living off the land.
But I’m glad some of you still find the time to get into the woods. I have been fortunate to receive deer meat in many forms over the years, and for non-hunters, we cook plenty of it. Last week I was treated to a backstrap and a couple of roasts from my dear friend of 40-plus years, Crico Watkins. I felt this to be a great opportunity to show you what to do with these cuts of meat should your friends be as generous as mine.
I’ve screwed up so many deer roasts over the years. The trick is in the preparation. If it looks like a tendon or any kind of silver skin, get rid of it. Be very meticulous and sanitary. The better the knife, the easier it will be. Some say to soak the meat in something like buttermilk to help break it down a bit. I did this one sans any type of marinade or brine.
I started the cleaned roast, seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper, one morning in the Crockpot. I added sliced onions and 2 cups of water and cooked it over high heat for about four hours. I then added shredded carrots, forgoing potatoes in favor of lowering the carbs. I cut the heat down to low, and a couple of hours later we had a pot roast you could cut with a spoon.
Success! It was better on day two.
For those keeping score, this is the ultimate gift from your hunter classmate. This coveted piece of meat is great for steaks or just on the grill. I tend to only cook thicker cuts of backstrap. Too small and you miss the point. Anything hotter than mid-rare would be a shame.
It was too cold to grill that evening, so I switched game plans and decided to stuff it. Slicing the strap lengthwise from end to end, then opening it up butterfly style, I prepared a stuffing. I sauteed a 4-ounce package of mushrooms and one diced white onion in butter. Half of the sauteed vegetables were folded into a brick (8 ounces) of room temperature cream cheese, saving the other half.
The cream cheese mixture was spooned into the awaiting backstrap. There was no need for toothpicks, twine or skewers, as the meat was transferred to a rack lined with enough strips of bacon to cover our square footage. Wrapping the bacon side by side, tightly around the loin, should hold everything in place.
I baked it at 350 degrees F in the oven on the rack over a cookie sheet. In less than a half hour we had a perfect 130 degrees F internal temp.
To the remaining onions and mushrooms I added 2 tablespoons of flour and stirred it over medium heat. Once the flour was browned, I added 1/2 cup of red wine and 2 cups of beef stock, stirring until smooth for a nice gravy. You can adjust your thickness by adding a little more stock or water.
Slice the meat crossways about two inches thick and serve with gravy on the side.
The second smaller loin was used for grillades. I’ve put more than one grillades recipe in these pages, so at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll just give you a recap. I cut the meat into 1/2-inch thick pieces, dredge them in flour and browned them. I add the holy trinity and garlic and sprinkled it with a little flour to thicken it up. Then I add a can of tomatoes, a splash of red wine, beef stock and Worcestershire sauce, and return the meat to the pan.
Simmer that until the meat is really tender and serve it over grits.
King Cake goes virtual
MobTown Events announced this week the 2021 King Cake-Off will be virtual. Sample as many as you can from our area and visit kingcakeoff.com to vote for your favorite. Vote daily until 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 29. Every online vote enters you for a chance to win a prize pack valued at over $1,000!
The winner of the prize pack and the King Cake-Off champion will be announced Jan. 30 at noon. Plans for an in-person 2022 event are already underway.
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