The Carpathian Mountains – a long mountain range running across Central and Eastern Europe, including Slovakia – have always been home to rich fauna. Brown bears, wolves, martens and wild boars, foxes, mouflons, or deer are only a few game species that populate the Carpathians in Slovakia. Some of them are still hunted for food or sport today, although there are regulations in place that control the extent of these activities.
The recipe below will give you a hint of what you can expect in the next part of A Taste of Slovakia book, where you’ll find a chapter on our game dishes and hunting traditions. I had Carpathian Fallow Deer Fillets with Mushrooms at the hunting lodge and restaurant in Gbely when I stopped there a few months ago to explore their cuisine.
The chef was happy to give me the recipe to share with Cookslovak fans. As you will see from the photo, Slovaks like their steaks and fillets flattened and cooked to doneness (similarly to Viennese Schnitzel style). The ‘pink meat’ fashion is quite new in my country, and few Slovaks would opt for a rare steak, so if you want to have yours this way, it’s better to look for less traditional restaurants in Bratislava or other major cities.
Here is how typical Slovak steaks, fillets or cutlets are prepared in most restaurants:
Carpathian Fallow Deer Fillets with Mushrooms
- 300 g fallow deer fillets
- 100 g mushrooms
- 200 g cooking cream (10 – 14% fat in Slovakia, depending on brand)
- 2 teaspoons Worcester sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground caraway
- salt and black pepper to taste
- oil for frying
- fresh parsley to sprinkle
- Season each fillet with salt and black pepper and pound it on both sides with a meat tenderizer, as shown in this Breaded Pork Steak recipe.
- Rinse and slice the mushrooms. Peel the garlic.
- Sauté the fillets in a pan with a little oil, about 5 minutes on each side. Take them out on a plate and cover to keep warm.
- Pour more oil into the same pan and sauté the sliced mushrooms in it for about 2 – 3 minutes, stirring now and then. Crush the garlic into the mushrooms, add the caraway, the Worcester sauce and the cream. Let simmer for 7 – 10 minutes, or until the liquids have reduced.
- Place the fillets on a serving plate and pour a generous amount of the mushroom sauce over them. Sprinkle with freshly cut parsley and serve with roast potatoes, fried bacon and onion. Garnish with mixed raw vegetables.
The waitress suggested I pair my Fallow Deer Fillets with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and it worked surprisingly well for someone as unaccustomed to wine as myself.