More than most meals, dishes prepared in the wild over an open fire have the sensory power to create strong memories that transport us back to moments in our past. This dish by Chef Joseph Shawana is a gift from his past and the ultimate act of sharing and storytelling through food.
“Growing up on Manitoulin Island, hunting was—and is—our way of life. This recipe is based of a memory I have when I was a younger boy going out hunting with my family. I remember seeing my uncles process the whole deer. Fast forward a few years when I started cooking, I went out hunting and collected some pine needles as I was once told that if you make an ash out of them it will heighten the flavour of the meat. So I made a pine needle ash by wrapping a handful of fresh pine needle in foil and placing them into the coils, a few minutes later, when the smoke cleared, I uncovered the pine needles and used the ash inside to season the venison I was cooking. While I was out hunting I came across some nice mushrooms, and although they were not King Oysters but Chanterelles, I cooked them up with some ramps I got earlier that spring. And now every time I make this recipe a flash from my childhood comes to mind.” - Jospeh Shawana
Season venison loins with pine needle ash—you don’t need much, just a light sprinkle. Add salt and pepper.
Bring a cast iron skillet to medium temperature, add 1 cup butter and melt. Once melted, add venison loin to pan and sear on all sides for 3 mins each side. Remove from heat and let rest at the edge of your grill or fire to keep warm while you make the sides.
In a medium-sized pot, add cream, diced sunchokes and crushed garlic. Simmer until fork tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and mash with a fork until smooth and lump-free, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
In the same pan you used to cook the venison, add remaining 1 cup butter and melt at medium heat, then add in leeks and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in mushrooms— you want them chunky, so break off into larger pieces. Saute for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and serve!