I have some friends that own a small piece of land near Cannon Falls Minnesota and they have done a tremendous job of turning it into a small farmstead. They have chickens and a small orchard and have expanded their garden to epic proportion. This year they fenced off the orchard and added ducks to the mix. Last year they came up with the idea of having a summer dinner on their farm and expanded that to a harvest festival in the fall. This year they wanted to do another summer festival and asked me if I would come down and do some of the cooking. I gladly excepted and was put in charge of all the meat and grilling and added a few surprises in as well.
Rick (the frustrated farmer) and I have been friends for some time now and have spent a good amount of time hunting and fishing together. after last years deer hunt we had save a couple of whole venison legs and thought they would make an attractive and tasty main dish for our festival. The legs were marinated over night and then slow grilled on an open wood fire for around 4 hours. I also had a couple of beef briskets and a beef heart that I thought would add a touch of variety to the meal. Rick makes a very tasty Nettle Beer so I marinated the heart in nettle beer with garlic and juniper berries and grilled them on the open fire as well.
I had planned on doing a couple of different appetizers but ran out of time and got a little frustrated when my confit'd pigs ears weren't turning out the way I wanted them to. My first appetizer, confit duck gizzards with brie and jelly turned out amazing and I was very pleased with them. I used three different types of jelly, a basil jelly, a blueberry pepper jelly and a red currant jelly. they were just the right combination of sweet savory and chewy that makes me so happy.
All of the meats turned out tremendous my favorite being the heart which I served with a red wine marrow sauce. The legs were tender and succulent with just the right balance of smokey goodness. Rick had picked some very lovely garlic scapes and we grilled them with some vegetable kabobs. Everybody brought a side dish of some sort and there was a dessert contest that was won by a delicious lemonade pie. It was a wonderful day on the farm and was topped off by my favorite little helper Eleanor giving her dad a hand. I almost can't wait to start planning the fall harvest festival.
Photos By John Scott Auterino