Bob Robb has been an outdoor writer for one million years. Most recently (like for the past 19 years), he served as a freelance editor and now editorial director at Grand View Outdoors.
Most of you see him in photos like this:
But Bob has another life. For example, you may not know that he does yoga in a Speedo on oceanfront property in Arizona.
Oh wait, that’s not true is it?
But here’s what is true. He likes to read literature and listen to classical music. And he eats like a culinary snob who subscribes to “Food & Wine.” Except, he eats arguably better than any refined foodie because he eats 100 percent organic, free-range wild game that he has hunted and harvested himself.
And it’s not just Robb’s hunting skills that allow for good eating. It’s also a credit to his wife, Cheryl, who understands the value of a reduction done well and appreciates that not all wild-game recipes call for the meat to be a) fried or b) slathered and baked in Cream of Mushroom Soup. (I propose these soups should be renamed “Cream of Something You Don’t Want Anything to Do With.”)
Thank you, Cheryl.
Now for the main course. Here’s a by-product of Robb’s secret foodie life:
Sheep Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce
Marinate loins for several hours in 4 large cloves of finely chopped garlic, ¼ C. olive oil, 1 sprig of rosemary chopped very fine and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
Port Wine Sauce Ingredients:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup onion, ½ cup carrot, ½ cup celery — all chopped
1 generous tablespoon tomato paste
2 fresh bay leaves
¼ cup tawny port
¼ cup dry red wine
3 cups beef stock or beef broth
4 tablespoons cold water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ tablespoons red currant jelly
1 tablespoon truffle butter (D’Artagnan Truffle Butter)
- Melt butter in a skillet over med-high heat. Add the vegetables, tomato paste and bay leaves and sauté until soft (about 5-10 minutes).
- Combine the wine and port and pour into the pan to deglaze, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the wine is reduced (about 10 minutes).
- Add the beef stock and simmer for at least 15-20 minutes to reduce. Strain through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much juice as possible.
- Pour into a clean saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Make sure that the cornstarch/water contains no lumps, then whisk it into the broth, stirring constantly until thickened. You may add more cornstarch if you prefer a thicker sauce.
- Finish the sauce by whisking in the jelly and truffle butter.
In a large skillet, add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle tenderloins with fine sea salt to taste. Sear tenderloins on all sides over med-high heat. Cook tenderloins until med-rare, checking with a meat thermometer. Bring to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes. Slice into thin medallions, place on plate. Pour finishing sauce over medallions.
— Cheryl Robb
Here is the completed dish:
And here’s a snapshot of what made the dish possible.
Now, if you look, you’ll see that the butcher paper is not labeled “sheep.” That’s because Robb did what many hunters do.
“The sheep meat we used was not one I killed myself,” said Robb. “The tenderloin was from a ram that a friend killed in Alaska last year. I swapped him some pronghorn burger and Axis deer for some moose, sheep, and caribou — and he thought he was ripping me off!”
Bonus Thought: Reductions and Manliness
Gravy, mind you, is a reduction, too. So, if you’re not a foodie and think you’re too manly to enjoy a delicate sauce or wine-based reduction with a touch of fruit or currant jelly, then — hate to break it to you, but — you’re still a reduction guy.
Reduction is just the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of mixtures like soups, sauces, wines or juices by simmering or boiling. There’s also an exorbitant amount of stirring involved. Work the spoon. And consider a wooden spoon. That’ll eliminate the repeated scrapping sound of silverware grazing the bottom of the skillet, which is nice if you’re compulsive or have a tic and that kind of thing bothers you (aka me).
The bottom line is this: if you like red-eye gravy, sawmill gravy (milk gravy), brown gravy or giblet gravy, then you’re a fancy pants too. Just like Bob Robb.
Related: 4 To-Die-For Venison Recipes
Featured photo: iStock