Johann Egger Cooks: Grilled Venison Loin with Wild Herb Crust

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Young chef Johann Egger puts a culinary spin on traditional Alpine staples. His innovative style of cooking uses fresh and local ingredients and an inventive twist on classic favourites. The result is a spectacular menu of dishes you won’t soon forget, from charcoal butter with grilled venison loin and salad with beer dressing to grilled sourdough bread. Try these recipes if you want to get a “wild” factor into your cooking!

Eckard

World traveller, lover of new experiences, and Tirol aficionado... View author

At just 21 years old, Johann Egger turned heads when he became Austria’s youngest head chef. Now at the grand old age of 30, he prepares fresh, locally sourced ingredients together skilfully as head chef at Schweizerhof Hotel in Kitzbühel. And he spends a lot of time helping at his parents’ organic farm in St. Johann in Tirol. From those first days on the farm with his family, Johann has been surrounded by quality produce, something that he says he does enjoy working with – so when it comes to sourcing locally, he heads to the woods together with his father, as a recreational hunter. What he likes cooking is classic Tirolean food and giving a bit of a fun twist to it, such as his recipe here on the Blog: Grilled venison loin with wild herb crust.

Johann Egger likes it rustic-style, cooking on Dechant Alm Alpine Pasture Hut in the Kitzbühel Alps.

Grilled Sourdough Bread & Cheese Dumplings to Start With:

Sourdough Bread

Mix together all ingredients a bowl. Turn out on to a clean kitchen surface and knead for 15 minutes. Put the dough into a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and let it prove for one hour. Turn out the dough onto a clean kitchen surface and knock back. Portion the dough and shape into small flat loaves. Leave to prove for a further 20 minutes. Bake breads on the grill.

Pressed Cheese Dumplings

Trim the bread slices and cut them into small cubes. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, caraway seeds, parsley and chives in a bowl. Pour with warm milk and stir in cream cheese. Cut the boiled potato in thin slices and add to the bowl. Sauté the finely sliced shallots and add. Chop the mountain cheese and grey cheese into small cubes and blend with the bread and potato mixture. Add eggs and knead the mixture to a firm dough. Dampen hands and form dumplings from dough. Level the dumplings off and place on the hot grill.

Pressed cheese dumplings and sourdough bread are delicious cooked on the grill.

Charcoal Butter for the Wild Herb Crust – Johann’s Special Recipe!

Mix cream, salt, herbs and one piece of burnt charcoal and let rest for an hour. This will infuse a nice smoke flavour in the butter. Pour the cream into a strainer and churn to butter. Once the butter has separated from the buttermilk, sieve through a fine cloth and add salt. Press the butter into a butter mold and refrigerate.

The Special Recipe: Let the coals burn until white, then take a burnt coal out of the fire.

Add some herbs to the cream.

Add the burnt charcoal to the cream and herb mixture.

After churning, the butter is placed into a butter mold.

Grilled Venison Loin with Wild Herb Crust for Main

Wash the herbs, pat dry and grind them in a mortar and pestle. Beat charcoal butter until frothy and add ground flatbread. Mix with the herbs and taste for salt and pepper. Add garlic and refrigerate. Trim the venison loin of all silver skin and connective tissue. Cut into pieces and coat with oil. Place the meat over the hot part of the grill. Cook until nicely marked on both sides. Remove from grill and brush with the herb glaze. Place the back straps on the hot grill again and gratinate. Move the meat to the cool area of the grill and let rest. Slice thickly and serve.

Coat the back straps with oil before cooking on the grill.

The Side Dishes:

Wild Tomato Salsa

Finely chop the tomatoes and peeled shallots, combine in a pot and brown over the hot part of the grill. Add tomato vinegar, salt, star anise and sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the salsa reaches your preferred consistency. Stir in basil and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and sugar to taste.

The finely chopped tomatoes and shallots are cooked on the grill as well.

Grilled Root Vegetables

Wash the root vegetables and peel (to your liking). Place vegetables on aluminium foil, add oil and fresh herbs, and toss to coat well. Wrap in foil and put the packet in glowing grill charcoal for 20 minutes.

This is one of the simplest, and best ways to cook a perfect grilled vegetable side dish.

Cranberry Sauce

Bring cranberries, vinegar and sugar to a boil over the grill, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add spices and simmer, stirring occasionally.

Grilled Porcini Mushrooms

Clean mushrooms and cut into slices. Put the butter, herbs, salt and honey in a small bowl and stir to combine into a marinade. Place mushrooms on grill and drizzle with marinade.

Wild Herb Salad with Beer Dressing

Beer Dressing

Whisk together the honey, mustard, vinegar, garlic and lemon zests in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the beer until combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly with a hand blender or whisk, until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine washed green leaf lettuces, pickled spruce tips, popped barley and wild herbs. Drizzle beer dressing on top.

View from Dechant Alm over the Kitzbühel Alps.

Photo Credits: W9 Studios, Stephan Elsler

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