Why venison is culinary heaven

As Country Life’s Editor, Mark Hedges, reports on a special stalking trip to Scotland and how best to cook venison in this week’s issue, we recommend three more tasty recipes on the menu at some of London’s finest restaurants.

Le Caprice Glencoe venison with autumn greens caramelised figs and chestnuts

4 x 150g venison loin steaks
100g hispi cabbage, shredded
100g kale, shredded
50g unsalted butter
Sunflower oil for cooking
6 ripe figs
1 heaped tbspn soft brown sugar
150g chestnuts, roasted and peeled and roughly chopped in half
Sea salt flakes (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce
300ml good quality chicken stock (if you have game stock, this would be even better)
20g unsalted butter
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

Put the chestnuts onto a baking tray and put into the oven for half an hour or until the skins start to split. When this happens, remove from the oven, allow to cool and then peel off all the skin.
Season the venison steaks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy bottom frying pan and cook the venison fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium rare or 3 to 4 minutes for medium. Leave to rest on a warm plate to catch the juices (which can be added to the sauce). While the meat is resting, cut the figs in half, put them onto a baking tray and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Put into the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until caramelised.

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Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a large pinch of salt and put in the cabbage and kale. Cook for 5 minutes until tender. Strain and then run under the cold water tap until cool. Drain thoroughly and dry on a clean tea towel.

For the sauce, boil the stock in a small saucepan until reduced by a third to create a sticky sauce for serving. Then whisk in the butter, season and keep warm on one side.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the chestnuts and fry them until golden brown (approximately 4 minutes). Then, just before serving, add the kale and cabbage and mix around for a couple of minutes until hot.

To serve, slice the venison and place on top of the cabbage and chestnut mixture. Scatter the figs on the dish and finish with the sauce.

Andrew Mclay is Head Chef of Le Caprice. www.le-caprice.co.uk
The venison used in this recipe came from www.blackface.co.uk


venison dishesThe Ivy peppered venison salad with cobnuts, bittersweet pears and autumn leaves (serves 4)

200g trimmed venison saddle fillet
Sunflower oil for cooking
50g cobnuts or hazelnuts
1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
4 sprigs of thyme, with the leaves picked off
100g mixed leaves eg red chard, Dorset watercress, red chicory etc
Sea salt flakes for seasoning

For the bittersweet pears
2 pears, peeled & sliced into 8 pieces each
100ml water
60ml white wine vinegar
40g caster sugar
1 bay leaf
½ stick cinnamon
2 star anise

For the red wine dressing
2 tbsp red wine
2 tbsp extra virgin oil
2 tbsp hazelnut oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients, except pears, into a saucepan and bring up to heat. Simmer until the sugar dissolves; pour onto the pears and allow to cool down in the liquor. Keep to one side.

Whisk mustard with red wine vigorously. Add both oils and a drop of cold water, mix together and check seasoning.

Pre-heat the grill to a medium temperature. Roughly chop the nuts and lightly toast on a baking tray. Be careful not to burn. Season with sea salt.

For the venison… lightly season the venison with salt and roll in the crushed pepper. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and cook the fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium rare, or 3 to 4 minutes for medium. Leave to rest on a warm plate and retain the juices.

In a large salad bowl, lightly dress the leaves with the red wine dressing and some of the venison juices.
Arrange salad leaves on the plates, and add pieces of pear and toasted cobnuts. Finely slice the venison and add to the salad with extra dressing if needed.

Gary Lee is Executive Chef of The Ivy, The Club at The Ivy and The Private Room at The Ivy. www.the-ivy.co.uk
The venison used in this recipe came from www.blackface.co.uk

venison dishes34 roast loin of Scottish venison with new season beetroots, curly kale, chanterelles and whisky-scented sauce (serves 4)

This is the perfect dish to bring everything together that is evocative of autumn in the Highlands. Wonderfully rich, yet lean venison, sweet new season baby beetroots, vibrant vitamin-rich curly kale and earthy chanterelles… all finished with a splash of Single Malt for a touch of extra indulgence. Autumn in the Highlands on a plate!

600g venison loin, fully trimmed (keep the trimmings to one side)
Sunflower oil for frying
12 fresh small or baby beetroots
200g curly kale, trimmed and washed
150g chanterelles mushrooms (or any other wild mushrooms will do)
500ml chicken stock (a good quality stock cube will do)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
50ml unsalted butter

For the sauce
2 shallots, diced
A sprig of thyme
50ml malt whisky
2 garlic cloves, crushed
125ml red wine
Pinch of sugar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.

When buying your meat, ask the butcher to clean up your venison loin and give you the trimmings. Put the trimmings into a roasting tray and roast for 20 minutes until brown.

Cut the stalks off the beetroot and wash well. Once washed, place them in a saucepan with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Then simmer for roughly 45 minutes until you can insert a knife with minimal resistance. If the liquid reduces, top up with water. Once cooked, drain (keeping the cooking liquid to one side) and leave until cool enough to handle. Then rub off the skin with a small knife – the skin should peel off quite easily. Cut the beetroots in half or if they are larger ones, into quarters. Place half of them into a small saucepan with a splash of the cooking liquor; bring to the boil. Then liquidise them until very smooth and transfer into a clean saucepan.
Bring a saucepan of salty water to the boil and blanch the kale for 3 to 4 minutes till tender. Drain and plunge into cold water, then drain again. Press out any excess water and keep to one side.

For the sauce
Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan, and add a splash of sunflower oil. Then add the shallots, thyme and garlic for a few minutes until they are soft. Add the venison trimmings, red wine and reduce by two thirds. Then add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Pass through a sieve into a clean saucepan and reduce till it coats the back of a spoon. Add the whisky and a pinch of sugar, bring to the boil. Then add half the butter, stir well, take off the heat and keep to one side.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and cook the fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium rare, or 3 to 4 minutes for medium. Leave to rest on a warm plate to catch the juices. Add the juices to the sauce.

To serve
Reheat the beetroot purée and keep warm. Heat a frying pan, add a splash of oil and the rest of the butter. Add the chanterelles, sauté for two minutes, then add the kale and the halved beetroots. Season and keep warm. Place a spoonful of beetroot purée on each plate, scatter over the beetroot, mushroom and kale. Slice the venison loin and put four pieces onto each plate. Finish with the reheated sauce.

Harvey Ayliffe is Head Chef of 34 in Mayfair. www.34-restaurant.co.uk
The venison used in this recipe came from www.blackface.co.uk