Wednesday, October 11, 2017

French Style Braised Venison #CooktheBooks #MadeinFrance

Our Cook the Books selection for this round takes place in rural France.  The novel, The Patriarch, by Martin Walker, is the 10th installment of the Bruno, Chief of Police series, chosen by Claudia of Honey From Rock.  You can learn all about our club and how to join us here.  It is still very early in this round so you have until the end of November to pick up the novel and join in the fun.

Image result for the patriarch novel

In fact, I will send my copy to the first person (in the USA and Canada) who comments below that they would like to join our group. It will be my gift to you.

This novel contains not only a murder to be solved but also numerous other problems for Bruno to resolve in his little village where everyone knows everyone.   On one hand he lives in the middle of hunting country where many of the villagers a huge proponents of hunting for food, sport and conservation purposes.  On the other side are the animal rights activists including one in particular who has offered refuge to the deer population on her large, fenced property.

Unfortunately, the property is not large enough for the deer population that has exploded over the years with no culling being permitted on her reserve.  The deer have eaten everything available on her property and are now being forced to actively hunt for food.  This causes them to leave her property and run into the roads, first causing an accident involving a school bus and then an accident taking the life of a wife and child of a prominent politician.

Bruno, busy on the investigation of a murder that took place while honoring a WWII hero who owns a winery, needs to find a way to keep the kind hearted deer-lady safe from harm while still allowing the culling of the deer who have become dangerous.

Add into this mix Bruno's realization that his relationship with his girlfriend is reaching an end and the onset of campaign season by the local politicians and you have a very busy police chief and a very busy read.

I loved the setting of this novel.  I could envision the beauty of the land.  I wanted to taste the wine and partake in the many feasts in the story.  I wanted to rent a vacation house on the property bought by Bruno's girlfriend and spend some time with the horses.  I wanted to vacation in that little village and hopefully, while there, get to know the characters a bit better.  

I don't feel that the author developed the characters all that well.  I didn't get to know them or to care about them.  My favorite parts of the novel were those dealing with wine, food and animals.  None of the characters resonated with me nor did the novel leave me with the desire to read the other adventures in the series except, of course, for the wonderful images of food and wine that I am sure they offer.

I finished up this novel while in the middle of our #MadeinFrance event sponsored by Whole Foods.  
You can read all about the event in the links to the blogposts from out French Winophiles group at the bottom of this post.  Whole Foods provided us with a case of French Wines and some beautiful French Cheeses that were perfect to enjoy while curled on the couch with this novel.

None of the bloggers in our group were given any monetary compensation and all of the posts below contain each blogger's personal opinions and thoughts.

I was inspired to make a venison roast.  We eat venison regularly in this household but I have never really considered that other Countries eat venison as well.  I wanted to use a French recipe for this roast both in honor of the novel and of the Made in France event.  A google search led me to a website called Traditional French Food where I found this recipe that I adapted to the one I'm sharing with you today.  

I also found a lot of other recipes but that will be a different story for a different post.

Of the wines, provided by Whole Foods, I chose to use the Clos Siguier Cahors in the recipe.   I needed 2 cups of wine for the marinade and the recipe calls for the roast to refrigerate in the marinade for 3 days.  That left 2 glasses of Cahors for Frank and I to sip in the evening while we watched Outlanders.  The Cahors area is located in Southwest France and grapes grown are primarily Malbec. Wines from this region pair very well with game.

The wine was very satisfying on it's own also.  It was a deep ruby color and very smooth and soft.

We invited the Bendas over to share this meal with us.  I served up the bottle of Bordeaux with a harvest dinner that included barley vegetable soup, a roasted beet salad, the venison, garlic mashed potatoes,  ratatouille, and a nice crusty baguette that I had baked up that morning.

We had enjoyed the soup at our sister in law's house over the weekend, when she invited us for dinner.  She provided us with leftovers and my  guests enjoyed her soup as much as we had.  The venison was in the freezer from Spencer's last hunting trip, the eggplant came from my friend, Kim's, garden and the tomatoes from our son in law, Pierre's, garden.

I thought the fact that this meal was a "community" project fit in well with the "village" theme of the novel.

There were 5 of us for dinner, we each started with the Chateau Haut Sociondo Bordeaux.  The venison was tender, juicy and flavorful.  The gravy was smooth, herbal and citrusy.  I thought it paired well with the Bordeaux that was smooth and rich.

When we were ready for a second glass of wine, we opened the Paul Joboulet Aine Cotes du Rhone.  We poured 5 glasses.  Our friend, Mike, took the first sip and said "Oh, now I like this wine, it is much better than the first".  

This wine is much bolder than the Bordeaux.  It is heavy in the mouth with flavors of anise.  It leaves a chalky feel in the mouth.  These are characteristics that I love in a red wine and evidently Mike does as well.  

I think that all three of these wines were the right choice for this braised venison dish.  It is really a matter of preference.

The next time I make this dish, I will buy several bottles of the Cahors so that not only am I able to use it in the marinade but also enjoy it with the finished project.

You will find this recipe and review, along with many more, over at Foodies Read.

Braised Venison (Civet de Cerf)
adapted from Traditional French Recipes

2 glasses red wine
2-3 T. olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 T. gin
5 allspice berries 
1 bayleaf
handful of parsley

1 (3 lb) venison roast, well trimmed of any silverskin and fat.
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 large Spanish onion, sliced
3 carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
4-5 sprigs of thyme
3 sage leaves
4-5 sprigs of parsley
1 bay leaf
pared rind of 1 orange

juice of 1 orange
2 c. beef broth
1 T. cherry jam
3 T. butter
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. water

Place the wine, olive oil, onion, gin, allspice, bay leaf and parsley in a pot and bring to a boil.  Let cool.

Place the venison into a gallon size freezer bag that seals.  Pour the cooled marinade into the bag.  Remove as much air as possible, surrounding the venison and refrigerate, flipping the bag occasionally, for 3 days.

Remove the meat from the bag, reserving the marinade, and dry the venison with a paper towel.  Heat the 1 T. of olive oil and 1 T. of butter in a dutch oven over high heat.   Add the meat to the pot and sear for about 5 minutes per side, until nicely browned all over. Remove meat to a plate.  

Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pot, reduce heat to medium and let cook for a few minutes. Lay the roast on top of the vegetables along with any juices collected on the plate. Add the marinade and stock to the pot.

Place the thyme, sage, bay leaf and parsley onto a piece of cheesecloth.  Gather the cheesecloth around the herbs and tie shut with kitchen twine, making a bouquet garni, and add it to the potathe along with the pared orange rind.

Cover and place in a preheated 350* oven for 3 hrs, flipping the roast every hour.  Remove the roast to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes while making the gravy.

Strain the liquid from the pot into a small saucepan, discarding all solids.  Add the juice and jam to the liquid and bring to a boil, stir in the butter until melted.  Make a slurry by combining the cornstarch with the water.  Add it to the boiling liquid, cooking and stirring until glossy and thickened.

Slice the meat and place on a serving tray.  Ladle the gravy over the meat and serve. Print Recipe

Great Ideas for French Wines and Cheeses

Take a look at all the great French Wine and Cheese ideas posted by our French Winophiles, thanks to Whole Foods Market!


  1. What an absolutely fabulous meal! I'm sure Bruno and his friends would have enjoyed all of it. Will try to find at least one of those wines here.

    1. I think they may be exclusive to Whole Foods Claudia so if you have one near you that would be the place to start.

  2. It looks like an amazing meal from start to finish and the wines too. A perfect match for the book!

    1. It was a wonderful meal and I think that Bruno would have approved whole heartedly.

  3. What a lovely meal! I would have thought there would have been more venison in this round

    1. I did too, Debra but there were so many choices and venison is not everyone's cup of tea.

  4. I love braised meats and just love venison. Unfortunatly I'm the only one in my family with that taste. Love your choice of wines! Cathy from CtB

    1. Cathy, if you forget to mention to your family and guests that this is venison they will never know......

  5. "I wanted to rent a vacation house on the property bought by Bruno's girlfriend and spend some time with the horses." Me too! I envied Bruno's daily horseback ride. What a feast you made. I don't drink wine, but I enjoy looking at the labels and I like those of the wines you selected, particularly the one with the horse. Happy New Year!


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