Meat Mandalas

We had this venison roast in the freezer, and the seal had broken so it was getting a little ice on it, so I pulled it out. Once defrosted, it was clearly more than we needed, so I cut three small steaks off of it and put the rest in the fridge. I rubbed the steaks with salt, pepper, and some herbs and let them sit while I cubed red potatoes and a turnip and set them in a little smoked duck fat to brown. The turnip greens, plus the greens from two chioggia beets and some radishes got a coarse chop and a wilt with garlic, and I simmered some dried cranberries with a minced beet, agave syrup, balsamic vinegar, and 5-spice. It worked well; venison likes a slightly sweet sauce, and the addition of sage flowers added an amazing kick to a combined bite of meat and chutney.

The next night, trying to avoid redundancy, I marinated thinly-sliced strips of deer in soy sauce, wine, agave, nam pla, mirin, and yuzu juice. I made some local polenta using more of the BBQ pork broth and the last dollop of the coconut borscht to give it a lovely deep flavor and rosy hue. Meanwhile, I glazed some baby carrots in rosé with raisins, cumin, cider vinegar, and honey. Once the meat was cooked (about 30 seconds- thin as it was, I wanted it still pink in the middle) I reduced the marinade for a sauce and put it all together. This one was better; the subtle richness of the polenta married ever so happily with the steakiness of the meat and the slightly sweet carrots and raisins. Another shining example of the endless riches to be had when one saves bones and uses potent bits of leftovers to change the everyday into the one-of-a-kind.

6 comments to Meat Mandalas

  • The Spiteful Chef

    The bottom one looks a little more like you. You've been getting all flowery on me with your plating lately. Are you pregnant?

    Bah. Good idea on the coconut borscht in the polenta. It did make a nice shade of pink.

  • Jen of A2eatwrite

    I had such a shock this morning because there are three food blogs I read by guys named Peter and all of your styles are very different. For some reason I thought I'd clicked on Souvlaki for the Soul, rather than Cookblog, and I was sort of shocked that his cooking style had turned into yours.

    Think I need some coffee.

    I second Spiteful's comment on the borsch – brilliant, and the color is gorgeous.

  • cookiecrumb

    Psych-A-Delic!
    So glad you're letting your inner geometrical art geek do a dance on the dinner plate.

  • Heather

    Preeeeettttyyy.

  • The Short (dis)Order Cook

    That top one is gorgeous. I love duck fat potatoes!

  • peter

    Kristie: No, that'd be Heather. And shouldn't you be by now?

    Jen: I would be shocked too, because it would mean he'd stolen my plates. Having a dollop of funky fuchsia goop in the fridge is not the worst thing in the world.

    CC: Yeah, although it always seems kinda contrived when I look at the pictures.

    Blanche: Way to comment from your phone.

    SdOC: What's not to love? Seriously, I think they might be as good as food gets (though healthy? Not so much.)

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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