Venison with Jerusalem artichoke purée and Rowan berry sauce

January is a challenging month for wild foods as the prospect of a warm house will often win the battle for motivation to get out and pick, plus the choice, admittedly, is limited. What is great to eat at this time of year are the fantastic wild meats, Venison, Pheasant and Rabbit to choose three we often use in the restaurant. These are great choices for something that is in season and reasonably priced, and a good alternative to supermarket meats.

To enjoy Venison I prefer a less hung animal, often no more than a week, so as not to be too gamey and to allow the more subtle flavours to come through and enjoy a few accompaniments too.

I like to accompany a good piece of venison with some seasonal vegetables, and berries. The stand out vegetable at this time of year is a Jerusalem artichoke which, while not growing wild in the UK, was a staple food for North American Indians, in the USA it is also known as the Woodland Sunflower although I have never seen one in flower.

For berries, unless you made some preserve in October/November them it is time to look into the freezer, I'll give you a simple recipe that can be used for wild berries but also look for frozen british berries, I prefer red berries for flavour and appearance.

Berry sauce
This is too easy and you'll never buy shop bought again once you try. Use berries (fresh or frozen), I use a mix of the below
to get a sweet, bitter, dry sauce which works brilliantly with Venison, but do use what you can find or purchase.

100g Blackberries
80g Redcurrants
20g Rowanberries
sugar to taste

Place the berries in a wide pan and add a little water to just cover the pan base
Heat gently till the water just simmers
Leave the pan on the heat for about 15-20 minutes till the berries are starting to break down, don't be afraid to use the back of a wooden spoon to encourage them to mash a little.
Take off the heat and strain through a sieve, use the wooden spoon to squash the juices though the sieve.
If the sauce is too thin then simmer for a little while till it is reduced to the right consistency
Add a little sugar to taste, err on the side of tartness to get a great flavour with meats.

Jerusalem artichoke purée
Jerusalem artichoke can be intimidating to prepare at first appearance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Soak the root in a sink for 10-15 minutes to loosen any dirt, then, with the back of a small vegetable knife, scrape the skin off the root, don't worry about any little lumps or bumps as we'll deal with them after cooking.

Chop into small pieces and boil in salted water for approx 15 minutes
Force the cooked root through a sieve into a small pan, leaving behind skin and any other bits we don't want to eat.

Add a little cream and salt to the sieved mash and beat with a wooden spoon over a moderate heat till the puree is an even, pale colour and smooth, this will take about 5 minutes. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

To cook Venison
Venison steak, about 150-200g per person, the steak should be about 1" thick, Have your butcher prepare this for you.

Season your Venison steak with a generous pinch of salt per side and a little ground pepper, leave for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Heat a pan to a moderate heat with a decent knob of butter, to coat the pan about 2mm deep in butter when melted.
As soon as the butter stops foaming place the steak in the pan and cook for approx 2 to 3 minutes per side with the heat turned up, a little longer for a thicker piece. This will result in a medium rare steak which is the perfect way to eat venison. If you like your meat cooked well done then Venison is probably not for you as it becomes unpleasantly tough when overcooked.

Rest for two minutes then serve

Serve the Venison on a bed of hot Jerusalem Artichoke purée and pour over a little berry sauce.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent recipe, Mat. I love jerusalem artichokes and do everything I usually do with potatoes. I made ja roesti once, they were excellent.