Rack of Venison with Grilled Leeks and Chard
by Chris Fischer
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stem
- 1 3- to 4-pound rack of venison, silver skin trimmed away
- 5 medium-sized leeks
- 3 medium-sized bunches of Swiss chard with stems attached, washed and dried
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1⁄2 lemon
- sea salt or kosher salt
In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, combine the anchovy fillets, the garlic, the olive oil, the black pepper, and the rosemary leaves. Crush or process into a rough paste and rub the paste all over the venison. Set the venison on a plate and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Preheat a gas grill on medium-high for 20 minutes or prepare a charcoal fire at least one hour ahead of time. If using wood or charcoal, allow the fire to burn down to glowing embers without flames. Bank the coals slightly to one side so that there will be a slightly hotter area and a slightly cooler area on the grill grate; then place the grate over the fire.
To prepare the leeks, trim away the roots and the dark green tops. slice the leeks lengthwise down the center of the stalk and remove any inner woody core. Put the leeks, cut side down, on a cutting board and slice across into 1-inch pieces. Put the leek pieces in a bowl of tepid water and swish around to loosen grit. Carefully lift the leeks out of the bowl, drain the gritty water, and repeat if necessary (leeks can be quite gritty).
To prepare the Swiss chard, separate the stems from the leaves by slicing away the stems with a paring knife. Slice the stems into 1-inch pieces and combine with the leeks. Roughly chop the leaves and set aside.
When the gas grill is hot or the fire has burnt down, put the butter in a six-quart dutch oven and put it directly on a cooler part of the grill grate to melt the butter. (If using gas, turn one burner down to low.) When the butter has melted, add the leeks and chard stems, season with salt, stir, and cover. Move the dutch oven to the hotter side of the grill if the vegetables are not steaming and sizzling a little. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the leeks and chard stems are softened and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the chard leaves to the mix, replace the cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, until the chard leaves are wilted and integrated, for a couple minutes. Remove the dutch oven from the grill and keep covered while the venison finishes cooking.
Meanwhile, place the rack of venison, loin side-down, directly on the grill grate for 5 minutes without moving. Then rotate 90 degrees and cook again for about another 5 minutes without disturbing to accomplish a nice crosshatching. Flip the rack over and move it to a cooler side of the grill (medium on gas). Cook with the grill lid on (but vents open on a charcoal grill), for about another 10 minutes, or until the exterior of the roast looks lightly browned, or cooked, all over. (You may need to cover the rib bones with aluminum foil to keep them from charring or hang them off the side of the grill.)
Next wrap the whole roast in aluminum foil and return it to a cooler spot of the grill. Cook, with the grill lid on, until the loin is medium rare. Check with an instant-read thermometer for an internal temperature of 135 degrees. Remove the meat and the dutch oven from the grill and allow the venison to rest at least 5 minutes on a carving board.
Squeeze half a lemon over the vegetables, stir, and portion a serving onto each plate. Carve the rack, cutting in between each rib to get the chops. arrange the chops over the vegetables. Sprinkle each piece of venison with sea salt or kosher salt.