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Venison Tartare

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Ingredients

1 cup benne seeds, toasted (can substitute white sesame seeds)

4 parsnips

Vegetable oil for frying

¼ cup cornichons

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 bunch mint, a few sprigs reserved for garnish

1 pound venison meat (ask your butcher for tartare-ready meat)

1 cup Meyer lemon juice or standard lemon juice

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 egg yolks (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons sea salt, for plating

Equipment

ring mold to shape tartare, meat grinder (optional)

Directions

  1. Toast benne seeds in 350-degree oven until evenly light brown.
  2. Rinse parsnips, peel, and cut into ½-inch thick slices. Preheat fryer or Dutch oven with vegetable oil to 250 degrees. Blanch shaved parsnips in oil for 2 minutes. Set on a paper towel to remove grease and reserve for a second round of frying later. Heat the grease to 350 degrees.
  3. Pulse cornichons in food processor until finely chopped. Remove and reserve.
  4. Chiffonade 6−7 larger mint leaves. Reserve a few small mint leaves for garnish.
  5. To grind the meat (or you can cut by hand), cut your meat into 1-by-3-inch strips. This will make grinding the meat more manageable. Load the meat into the hopper of grinder and grind one time through into a mixing bowl. Wrap and reserve. (To knife chop instead of grind, cut the venison into thin sheets, from there cut those sheets into strips, then the strips into small cubes. Keep running your knife over the meat until it is chopped finely and there are no large chunks. Be careful not to smash and mush the meat.)
  6. Put the ground venison into a mixing bowl and add lemon juice, egg yolks, olive oil, cornichons, shallots, and mint. Mix with the back of a spoon, creaming the whole thing together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. To plate the tartare, place four ounces on each plate in a ring mold, making sure it is level and even. Before removing the ring mold sprinkle the top with the toasted benne seeds, making sure it is thinly but evenly covered, then remove ring. Fry the parsnips in the 350-degree oil until golden brown. Sprinkle parsnips with sea salt and serve.
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