Roast venison with beetroot purée and gratin

Ingredients

600-800g (1lb 4oz-1lb 12oz)

venison fillet

For the gratin

500ml (18fl oz) double cream

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

6g (¼oz) fresh thyme

3 medium beetroots

2 large white potatoes

For the purée

500g (1lb 2oz) beetroots

300ml (10fl oz) apple juice

50ml (2fl oz) white-wine vinegar

200ml (7fl oz) port

500ml (18fl oz) beetroot juice or orange juice

300ml (10fl oz) apple juice

optional Ingredients

½ clove garlic, finely chopped

Small bunch of picked parsley

Half a loaf of sliced white bread, crusts cut off

Sprig of rosemary, chopped

Method

1 For the gratin, place the cream, garlic and thyme in a pan. Bring to simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Pass liquid through a fine sieve. Peel the beetroot and potato and slice on a mandolin 1mm to 2mm thick. In an earthenware dish or flat tray (2.5cm deep), layer the vegetables in alternate layers, topping each layer with a little cream, salt and pepper. Once built up, the gratin should be 1½cm deep. Place it in a pre-heated oven at 170˚C/ 340˚F/gas mark 3½. It should take about 45 minutes (to see if it’s done, plunge a knife into the gratin it should go through without resistance).

2 Remove from oven and cover with a sheet of grease- proof paper. Lay another tray on top to compact the gratin, allow it to cool, then chill it and cut it into squares or discs.

3 For the purée, rub the beets in olive oil and then season, wrap them in tin foil, place them in the oven at 170˚C for the same time as the gratin, take them out and leave them to cool. Take off the foil, peel the beets and chop them. Put all the purée ingredients in a pan and cook over a medium heat, with a lid on, until the liquid starts to reduce (about 45 minutes). There should be enough remaining liquid to make a purée that’s easy to form. If it’s too dry, it will be hard to purée. Purée it until smooth, then pass it through a fine sieve.

4 Put a little oil in a hot pan, season the venison on all sides, sear it in the hot oil until golden on all sides and place it on a wire rack in an oven set to 170˚C as before. It will take seven to eight minutes until the meat is medium rare (well done will take 15 minutes). Leave it to rest for four to five minutes.

The squares or discs of gratin should go into the oven to reheat about five minutes before you reheat the venison. After the meat has rested, put it back into the oven for three minutes, then slice the venison into ½cm-thick slices. Place a circle of purée in the centre of each of four plates, put the gratin in the middle, and place the venison slices on top.

Watercress Soup

Ingredients

Four bunches of watercress, plus a few leaves to garnish (about 350g)

2 onions

25g (1oz) butter

Small clove of garlic, finely sliced

500ml (18fl oz) white chicken stock

200ml (7fl oz) double cream

200g (7oz) cranberries

200ml (7fl oz) orange juice

Zest of one orange

1tsp sugar

Method

1 Chop the watercress very finely from the top of each bunch to the stalks. Discard the stalks. Peel and finely slice the onions. Put a pan over medium heat and add the butter. When it melts, add the onion and garlic with a couple of pinches of salt, stir, and place a lid on it so that the onions sweat until they’re soft, but not coloured (about four minutes).

2 Add the watercress, and stir until it starts to wilt. Pour the chicken stock and cream in, put the lid back on and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook for about a minute. Season to taste, then purée it in a blender until smooth.

Put the cranberries, orange juice, zest and sugar in a pan and cook, over a medium heat, until they form a syrupy mixture (about 10 minutes), stirring now and again. Pour the hot soup into bowls, and dot the cranberry syrup around, then garnish with

a few more watercress leaves.