Roasted Pork Shoulder

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I recently read Nigella Lawson’s last cookbook, published in 2017, called At My Table.

It didn’t seem to grab me like her previous 87 books, or however many she’s churned out over the years, but then, after I was done, I realized how many recipes I bookmarked.

The recipes weren’t terribly fancy, but that’s not her style in the first place. And it seemed like half of the dishes were sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, like she’d been studying Ottolenghi’s cookbooks at the time of writing hers.

But again, I did bookmark a lot of recipes. And the first I wanted to make was her roasted pork shoulder. Why you may ask? It’s because when I cook with pork shoulder or butt, I’m usually making chile verde or pulled pork in the slow cooker. This pork shoulder is roasted in the oven.

To quote Ms. Lawson about her recipe: “As far as I’m concerned this is the easiest route to a lazy weekend feast.”

What I didn’t realize, was how challenging it would be to find a boneless, skin-on pork shoulder. I even called D’Artagnan and Lobel’s in New York City.

So I bought a de-boned pork shoulder (I even got resistance from the butcher for that request) and covered it on one wide with pork rind that I purchased from a different butcher.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
With caramelized garlic and ginger

2 heads garlic
5.5 pounds boneless and skin-on pork shoulder
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon raw unfiltered apple cider

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut off the tops of the 2 heads of garlic, so that you can just see the cloves peeking through, and sit each scalped head of garlic, cut-side up, on a piece of foil large enough for you to be able to pull up the ends and scrunch them together to form a parcel.

Put both parcels in the hot oven and roast for 45 minutes, by which time the cloves will be soft and caramelized, then remove from the oven and leave to cool, still wrapped in their foil parcels – this could take up to 3 hours.

Then, 7 1/2 hours before you want to eat, take the pork out of the fridge for about an hour to get the chill off it, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.


While you wait, unwrap the two parcels of garlic, and squeeze the bulbs to push the sticky caramelized cloves out into a bowl. Add the ginger, soy, and vinegar and mix together.

Sit the pork, skin-side up, and spread the garlic and ginger paste into the pocket where the bone was. If there’s any residue left in the bowl, you can smear this gently around the sides, but make sure you don’t let any get on the skin.

I cut some of the pork skin I purchased to fit the top of the shoulder. You can see it under the pork. I used a few ties of string to secure it once the paste was inside the pork.

Pour some freshly-boiled water into the bottom of a roasting pan, just to cover the base by about 1/4 inch. Flip over the pork so that the skin is on top and roast in the oven for 5 hours. I brushed a little peanut oil over the pork skin.


After these 5 hours, gently baste the sides of the pork with the juices that have collected in the pan, then leave to roast for another hour.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and turn the oven up to 425 degrees F. Patiently spoon the juices into a wide-necked heatproof pitcher and return the pork to the hot oven for 30 minutes until the skin has turned crunchy.

Transfer the pork to a board. Spoon off the fat from top of the intense meaty juices in the pitcher; this should leave you with about 1 cup of the gingery and garlicky gravy. Check to see whether you need to reheat these juices and if you do, just warm them in a saucepan.


Remove the crisp skin and break into pieces. I cut a quite creative triangle for artistic plating.

Then carve, shred, or pull apart the meat, as wished. I sliced, and in this photo you can see the roasted garlic-ginger paste. There was a slight pinkishness to the roasted pork that didn’t show up in my other photos.

Transfer to a warmed dish and pour the meat juices over it, to serve.

The sauce is absolutely delicious. I wish there were more of it.

I was quite impressed with this slow roasted pork – tender and delicious. The next time, I won’t worry about skin, and the last 30 minutes at 425 degrees F won’t be necessary.


I also didn’t realize how much pork rind/skin shrinks, so I should have trimmed it much larger than I did, but it was still a fun experiment.

Bacon Fried Rice

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My husband doesn’t like anything “fishy,” which includes, sadly, fried rice. He’d love it without the little shrimp, which to me, is what makes it so delicious and unique.

I was recently reading through a People Magazine, for a friend, and in the back was a recipe for bacon fried rice by none other than David Chang.

It initially got my attention, when most recipes in People don’t, because I don’t read People, because I thought bacon fried rice would be perfect for my husband! And it was!

David Chang is the chef and host of Netflix’s new food series Ugly Delicious, which I haven’t seen. Most of us are familiar with him as the owner of the Momofuku restaurant group. Perhaps you’ve heard of Momofuku Noodle Bar or the Milk Bar? Now he has his own media empire as well.

In any case, David Chang claims that any fried rice recipe is best made with pre-cooked and cooled rice. “The starches relax so the grains won’t clump up and get mushy.” My Chinese friend confirmed that in her family, extra rice was continually stockpiled just for making fried rice.

The first time I made this rice, I had none leftover, so I simply used sushi rice and followed the recipe. I have to say, it was superb, and the texture was just fine.

This time, I’m using leftover cooked rice.

Bacon and fish sauce? Yes and yes. Try this recipe. It’s superb!

Bacon Fried Rice
By David Chang

4 cups cooked white rice
2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
8 bacon slices, diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 green onions, sliced

Bring the cooked rice to room temperature; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a shallow pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Add the onions, and sauté together for 3-4 minutes more, turning down the heat slightly if too much browning occurs.


Add the peas, and stir to combine. Then gently stir in the rice.

Let the rice mixture heat thoroughly over medium heat. Make a well in the middle, and add the eggs. Stir occasionally to make sure they’re cooking, then stir them into the rice. There should be little bits of cooked egg throughout the rice.


Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce.

Just before serving, stir in the green onions; I used chives.

I also added some black sesame seeds.

And then, yes I did, I added an egg!

Of course it was fabulous. Will I continue making this fried yes? You bet.

Regarding the pre-cooked and cooled rice, it was definitely lighter, and the grains separated easily.

And FYI, this is my favorite fish sauce.

 

 

Korean Coleslaw

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Often when I’m browsing online for recipes, I print one I like, save it, and keep the stack of recipes in my kitchen.

Which is silly, because I have boxes of recipes glued on cards stemming from my childhood, and even folders for saved recipes that are organized by the season and, of course, my cookbooks. I guess one can never have too many recipes.

So I was browsing through my recipe “stack,” and I saw the words “gochujang” and “coleslaw” together. What? There it was – a coleslaw, with a dressing containing Gochujang!!

I only recently discovered the Korean barbecue paste, and used it on pork tenderloin. What a wonderful flavor this paste imparts.

Turns out that the coleslaw recipe is from Abbe’s blog “This is How I Cook.” Not only does she have a great blog, she has the cutest dog, Geordie.

I made a few adjustments, mostly adding more gochujang to the coleslaw dressing.

Korean Coleslaw

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons gochujang
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha
1 tablespoon agave

4 cups shredded cabbage, purple and white
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup grated carrots
8 green onions, sliced
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned, chopped
Black sesame seeds, optional
Peanuts, optional

First prepare the gochujang dressing in a small blender jar and set aside.


Place the purple and white cabbages, red bell pepper, and carrots in a large bowl. Mix well.

Add the dressing and stir. Let sit for 1-2 hours to soften the cabbage slightly. Taste before continuing with the recipe.

Add the green onions and cilantro and mix together.

To serve, sprinkle the coleslaw with sesame seeds.

If I’d only used purple cabbage, I would have also used white sesame seeds.

Then add some peanuts.


If you want it spicier, add more Sriracha sauce and stir well, but you don’t want it to overpower the gochujang.

And for heaven’s sake, slice your own cabbage. Don’t buy those terrible bags of coleslaw!

It’s fresher and it’s cheaper!

This coleslaw was fantastic! It would be great with salmon or chicken on top as well. Thanks Abbe!

Asian Glaze

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For the past few years I’ve been noticing more and more products like barbeque sauces, marinades, finishing sauces, and the like being sold at supermarkets and gourmet food stores. I’m sure that some are good, but being someone who must make everything from scratch (I can’t help myself) I tend to turn up my nose at these usually overpriced products.

Let’s all agree that anything made at home will always be better and less expensive than purchasing it pre-made. And then when you make it in your own kitchen, you don’t typically add food color, additives, preservatives, thickeners, and other such chemicals.

So some of these products are Asian. But the thing is, it is so darn easy to make your own, with just a few basic Asian ingredients. You can also adjust the ingredients to make the liquid more Thai, more Vietnamese, more Chinese, etc., depending on what you’re after.

I would definitely use the following recipe as a marinade, or to toss some into a stir fry. But because I’m cooking these ingredients a bit, thickening them slightly, I’m calling this a glaze. It can be applied to any grilled meats and fish, or even to vegetables for instant Asian flavor. Here’s what I did.

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Asian Glaze

Shallots, about 6 ounces after trimming and peeling
1 tablespoon peanut or other oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce*
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 lime

Begin by finely chopping the shallots. At the end of this sauce you have the option to puree it, so don’t worry about the uniformity of the chopping if you’re going to be pureeing the glaze.


Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a small pot. Heat it over low heat, and saute the shallots for about 5 minutes.
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Add the soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and honey to the shallots. Give everything a good stir

Then add the ginger, garlic, and about 1/3 cup of water.
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Stir well, then let simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes. It depends how you want the consistency of the glaze.

Add the cayenne and squeeze in the lime juice, then remove the glaze from the heat.


Use the glaze while still warm.

I typically cook fish in butter, but butter isn’t very Asian, so I used a little olive oil to pan fry the Swai, and sprinkled it simply with salt and pepper.
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If you don’t like the chopped bits, you can place the glaze in a blender and blend until smooth. It will make the glaze thicker as well.
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If you want, top everything with sesame seeds, pine nuts, or some cilantro!

* If you don’t have sweet soy sauce, use an extra tablespoon on honey.

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Other possible Asian ingredients:
Mirin
Rice wine vinegar
Fish Sauce
Chile Paste
Black bean paste
Hoisin Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Miso
Shrimp Paste
Curry Paste
Sesame Oil

How to Stir Fry!

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Stir frying is something I do quite often in my kitchen. For one thing, Asian stir fries, with traditional ingredients, are simple and delicious. Secondly, they’re quite healthy, because of the lovely balance of meat or seafood and vegetables. They’re also a good use for leftover meat and vegetables, and mostly, I love them because no recipe is required.

It does help to be familiar with Asian ingredients. My stir fries are more on the Chinese side, but add some fish sauce and you’ve got yourself a Thai stir fry! As I have said before, you can certainly follow recipes, but I often cook the inspired way. That is, being familiar with the traditional ingredients of a cuisine, and using those in your dish. It may not be a perfect stir fry according to Chinese chefs and grandmothers, but no Chinese food police are coming to my kitchen to arrest me any time soon!

First, it’s important to have the basics – onion, garlic, and ginger. These can be part of the stir fry, or used in a marinade. If I do marinate meat before a stir fry, I only use a little peanut oil or olive oil – enough to blend the aromatics. Liquid additions are wonderful, but then the meat has to be patted dry before cooking. An oily marinade is just easier.

The seasonings for stir fries are easy to find, fortunately. Soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sherry, sesame seed oil, chile paste, hot sauce, and hoisin sauce. Other optional ingredients include fermented bean paste, shrimp paste, plum sauce (which I don’t care for) and oyster sauce.

One Chinese seasoning is called Chinese 5-Spice, which, obviously, is a mixture of spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves, star anise, and pepper. I’ve noticed that some also contain fennel. As with most spice and herb mixtures, I hesitate to use them. Just like using a purchased curry powder, every dish you make will end up tasting the same. For this dish today, I just want the meat, vegetables, and seasonings to shine. But use the spice mixture if you like it!
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The protein used in a stir fry has to be good quality and quick cooking. For example, I wouldn’t use beef or pork that requires 4-6 hours of cooking. I’m talking beef and pork tenderloin, chicken thighs and breast, scallops and shrimp.

When it comes to vegetables, anything goes, unless you are expecting the Chinese food police to show up. Of course there’s traditional bok choy, Chinese cabbage, Chinese eggplants, snow peas, and so forth, plus ingredients that play a minor role like bean sprouts, dried mushrooms, chile peppers, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and cilantro. But if you want to use carrots and broccoli, you can make a delicious stir fry as well. Or spinach and tomatoes!

The only requirement of a stir fry is that all the different components are cooked properly at the very end when all of they are all tossed together. So if you’re using carrots and broccoli, steam-cook them first until almost completely tender, then add them to the cooked meat at the end. Perfection! Spinach and tomatoes wouldn’t require any pre-cooking. It’s all about common sense.

Here is the stir fry that I made using what was in my refrigerator one night. Enjoy, and make sure to customize it to your tastes and ingredients!

Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

1 1/2 pounds cubed beef tenderloin
1/2 cup olive or peanut oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 – 1 1/2″ piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound sugar snap peas or snow peas
1/3 cup soy sauce
3/8 cup mirin
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
2 medium onions
2 medium red bell peppers
Fresh cilantro, chives, or chile pepper slices

Drain the beef well on paper towels, then place the cubed beef in a large bowl or re-sealable bag. I used the ends of a whole beef tenderloin, from which I had cut filet mignon slices, which is why the “cubes” are different shapes. The volumetric uniformity of the cubes is what’s important in a stir fry. Mine are on the large size, but uniformity is what’s critical.

Add the oil, garlic, ginger, and salt to a jar of a small food processor.
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Process until smooth, then pour over the meat.
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Toss the meat, or bounce it around in the bag to make sure the beef is uniformly coated with the flavorful oil. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Bring the meat to almost rooom temperature at least an hour before beginning the stir fry.

When you’re ready, begin by trimming the peas, if necessary, and steam them just until crisp-tender. For me, this was 5 minutes of steaming. Snow peas are thinner and would require less cooking time. However, cooking time also depends on how crisp you like your vegetables.


Let the peas cool. If you think you have overcooked the peas, or any vegetable for that matter, toss a cup full of ice over the vegetables in a colander. This will cool them off faster, and the melted ice will drain away. Set the peas aside.
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In a measuring cup, measure out the soy sauce, mirin, hoisin sauce, and sesame see oil. Whisk the mixture, and set aside.
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If you’re not familiar with hoisin sauce, I’d suggest buying some. You don’t need much for fabulous flavor. It’s just a soy bean paste. There are different qualities and brands. This is the one I can find locally, but when I have the opportunity to visit an Asian market, I buy more “authentic” brands.
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Slice the onions and peppers to your liking. I like more of a wedge look. Have these in a bowl nearby.
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Have everything you’re going to use in your stir fry near the stove. A lot about Chinese cooking, much like all cooking, is to have everything on hand during the cooking process. It’s mise en place on crack, because things can move quickly

To begin, heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil* and just when it begins to smoke (have your ventilation system on) add a handful of cubed beef. Let them sit for a minute, before tossing around, then leave them alone for another minute or two. Get the cubes to the point where all sides show browning, but don’t allow any further cooking. Remember, there will be a little cooking boost at the end.


Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, then continue with the remaining beef.
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When you are done with the browned beef, lower the heat on the stove by about half. Add the onions and peppers, and saute them, tossing them around occasionally to create some caramelization.

If you want them cooked softer, you can put a lid on the skillet/wok for about a minute.


when you’re happy with the “cook” of the onions and peppers, add the peas and toss gently.
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Then add the beef cubes and any juices that might have accumulated in the bowl.
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Immediately pour in the seasoning mixture, and combine it gently. Stir occasionally, to make sure the beef cooks through to your liking. Mine, of course, will end up medium-rare.
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If the stir fry seems like it has too much liquid, remove the beef and vegetables, using a spider sieve, and place in a large serving bowl. Then reduce the liquid in the skillet/wok.
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Pour the reduced liquid over the stir fry, toss gently, and serve.
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Most people enjoy rice with their stir fries, but I prefer it as is.

Serve the stir fry with chile paste or sriracha or even cayenne pepper flakes for those who want a boost in heat. I’ve also included dried chile pepper slices, and you can always serve black or white sesame seeds for a pretty topping.
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* You may not need any extra oil if you have enough extra oily marinade. Make sure to use all of the marinade in the stir fry for extra flavor.
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note: Some recipes call for cornstarch to thicken the final sauce for a stir fry, but I don’t bother. If you’re not careful, the sauce will become gloppy, which reminds me of bad Chinese American restaurant food.

Venison Short Loin

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I don’t remember ordering a venison short loin when I placed my last meat order with D’Artagnan, but obviously I did because I discovered it in the freezer last week. Perhaps it was one of those many mysterious orders I placed in late evening after a bottle glass of wine?

I have no issue with venison at all, but I had no idea what a short loin was. So I googled.

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Surprisingly, I came up empty handed, except for the fact that the short loin is also known as backstrap. Since googling didn’t provide much information, I turned to my encyclopedic friend Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet. He was able to tell me that this was part of the tenderloin of the deer, which really excited me. As part of the tenderloin, I could prepare this piece of meat just as I would a chunk of tenderloin.

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I decided to make an Asian marinade for the meat, utilizing soy sauce, fish sauce, and a sweet soy sauce. Plus, the marinade would make a good reduction to serve with the cooked venison.

There are so many options when you choose ingredients for an Asian-inspired marinade. The fish sauce and sweet soy sauce are both Thai in origin. But I could have chosen oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, shrimp paste, sesame oil, or mirin just as easily. Play around with all of your favorite Asian ingredients and figure out what you like.

To complete the marinade, I added some fresh garlic. Fresh ginger plus cilantro leaves would also be wonderful blended in, but I decided to keep it simple. Plus, I wanted to serve these venison steaks with a spring pilaf I’d made, so I wanted all flavors to compliment each other.

Here’s what I did:

Asian-Inspired Marinade

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
4 cloves garlic
Sambal Oelek, to taste

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Place the olive oil, soy sauce, fish, and sweet soy sauce in a blender jar. Add the garlic cloves and blend until the marinade is smooth.

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Place the short loin in a sealable plastic bag, and pour the marinade into the bag.
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Seal the bag, and refrigerate the meat for 24 hours.

The next day, at least 1 1/2 hours from serving time, remove the bag from the refrigerator and let the meat warm up a little. Before cooking, grab the meat, using tongs, out of the marinade and place it on paper towels. Pat it dry on all sides.

Pour the remaining marinade from the bag into a small saucepan. At this point, add a teaspoon of sambal oelek, or the amount to your liking.
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Place the saucepan on the stove over the lowest heat, stirring occasionally, and reduce the marinade mixture to thicken it.

Meanwhile, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet or grill. Heat the oil over high heat until the oil begins smoking. Have your ventilation system on as well. Place the meat in the grill. Add some freshly ground black pepper, but stay away from salt. Sear the meat on one side. This will take about 5 minutes.

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Turn the meat over and sear it on the other side for another 5 minutes.

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Turn down the heat under the grill but keep the meat in the grill. This will allow the meat to cook through to the center, without over-browning the outside. This will take another 5 minutes total. If you prefer to use a thermometer, without too much poking, get the meat to an inside temperature of 125 degrees for rare, if that’s the way you like it. That’s how we prefer it. Then remove it to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Once the marinade has thickened, remove it from the stove. This isn’t a necessary step, but I put it through a strainer before serving because I don’t like chewing on chile pepper seeds.
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When you’re ready to serve, slice the venison short loin crosswise, in 1/3″ wide slices or thinner, if preferred.

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If you like the sauce, pour a little over the meat. It definitely has a fish sauce flavor, so make sure you like that taste before you slather it on the meat.
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I served the asian-flavored venison with an orangey leek and pea pilaf. It was a delightful combination.

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verdict: I will continue to order venison short loin from D’Artagnan when I place meat orders. The meat was so tender, and I didn’t find it at all gamey, which is what most people don’t like about venison. Of course, the Asian marinade was pretty strong flavored. This cut of meat would really lend itself to some serious Southwestern flavors as well. I’ll keep you posted!