Today, Philip and I celebrate our one year anniversary. After we returned to Florida from our honeymoon, we celebrated with our families at our home in Florida. For our wedding reception we served a delicious Venison Marsala. Through some trial and error, I came up with a recipe combination that was easy to make for a crowd, a bit on the fancy side and delicious.
Our Wedding at the Hitching Post
We traveled to Kentucky through an ice storm to be able to get married on the homestead for our Valentine’s Day wedding. The ice storm turned our intimate ceremony at the Hitching Post into a Winter Wonderland! However, the storm brought some challenges. A Kentucky marriage license is only good for 30 days, so we were unable to get it in advance. The government offices shut down due to the storm. I tried calling them over and over to see if they were open, finally we decided to just go check. Thankfully they opened for half a day and we were able to get it in time.
Our wedding officiant wouldn’t travel during the storm, so we opted to get married on facetime instead. Our family members who had planned to make the trip, also had to graciously decline, as the travel was treacherous. You can read all about it here.
The Reception Menu
The advantage of having the reception after our return was we were able to prepare the meal ourselves. We started with appetizers: Hot Spinach and Artichoke dip, cheese and crackers and shrimp cocktail. Venison Marsala was the main entrée. Served with garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls.
Preparing the Meal
Prior to the reception, I made a schedule of the food preparations. I wrote myself clear notes of when each dish needed to be cooked to ensure the food was ready at the same time. The schedule was my saving grace. When feeling a bit frazzled, I would refer to my schedule and trust the plan I made when I wasn’t under pressure.
I carefully prepped all my food early in the day. The mashed potatoes were prepared in the morning and kept warm in the slow cooker prior to the meal. I gave myself slack and purchased rolls. To keep meat preparations simple, we seasoned the meat liberally, skipping dredging the meat in flour. We simply grilled the venison on the flat grill.
I prepared two versions of marsala sauce, one with mushrooms and one without. These required some tending. The recipe calls for quite a bit of marsala cooking wine and broth that needs to reduce. They were kept warm in the stove and became a thick gravy.
- 2 lbs. venison steaks
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- parsley for garnish
- 3 tbsp. butter, unsalted
- 2 oz. prosciutto
- 3 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup marsala cooking wine
- 8 ounces portabella mushrooms cut into slices
- Pound the venison steaks with a meat mallet to approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Combine the spices: oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper and thyme. Season both sides of the meat. Since I was making enough to feed about 20 people, I mixed this is a large batch in a shaker bottle. Sprinkle liberally when cooking.
- Cook the meat until your desired doneness.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet, add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to soften.
- Add 3 tablespoons of chopped onion and sliced prosciutto. Cook until the onion is soft.
- Add 1 tablespoon of flour to create a roux. Blend well.
- Add marsala cooking wine and chicken broth. Reduce heat and simmer. Reduce sauce to one cup of gravy.
For our dinner party, I pound all the steak ahead of time, but I cut it into bit size pieces rather than flat steaks. This made cooking easy and guests could have as much as they wanted. Mixing all the spices into an extra shaker jar makes it so easy to season the meat.
Since not all guests like mushrooms, I made two sauces, one with mushrooms and one without. They looked completely different, the mushrooms change the color of the sauce.
Please see the original recipes that are linked in my post. While I combined a few recipes into my preferred method, these are not original recipes. This recipe card is created for your convenience.
The Wedding Cake
I made the cake myself. The cake was an apple spice cake with caramel mousse filling and caramel buttercream. The cake recipe was a modified cake mix. I should have used my intuition when preparing, It had way too much liquid in the recipe and I knew it. It turned out ok, but rather dense. The mousse and the frosting are to die for, I could eat them both with a spoon (I did actually)! We froze the cake top for our one year anniversary.
Meal Planner for a Big Event
Preparing a big meal for a crowd does take some extra planning. My saving grace was my meal plan. Prior to the event, I sat down and determined the cook time needed for each item. I considered the last minute prep time. What’s in the oven, or on the stove? I’ve only got so much space, how can I manage it and have dinner ready to serve at the same time? I wrote down the exact time I needed to start each item. When I got frazzled, and you will get frazzled, I stuck to my plan.
Our gift to you is the Meal Planning printable available in the Subscriber’s Library. This is not your typical weekly menu plan, it’s a planning guide for a big event. Maybe you are planning a reception, a baby shower, possibly Thanksgiving.
The Meal Planner includes a Menu and Prep Schedule, Assigned Tasks spreadsheet and Notes section. Feel free to print as many pages as you need.
If you are a member of the Kowalski Mountain Family, log into the Subscriber’s Library and download instantly. If you forgot your password, check our most recent weekly email, it’s included in each one.
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About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.
Original Recipe Sources
This dish is all about the Marsala Sauce. I needed a recipe that could be prepared separate from the meat, not dependent on the drippings from the meat pan, as most sauces are made. This Marsala Sauce needed very little tweaking to make it perfect.
The meat seasoning came from this Venison Steak Marsala recipe. Due to the volume of food we were preparing, I skipped dredging the meat.