The game season is upon us, for me this means venison is back on the dinner plate. Venison used to be a strictly seasonal, expensive meat however it is now more widely available, as it’s commonly farmed. Although still at the expensive end of the meat market; it’s lean, close-textured, dark, moist meat and distinct gamey flavour is truly worth every penny.
Venison is defined as ‘large antlered game’ (funnily enough my girlfriend also refers to me by this) and therefore, as well as deer, it includes elk, caribou, moose, antelope, bison, buffalo and me. Prime roasting joints tend to come from the leg (haunch), the loin and the saddle, while the fillet or boned loin provides steaks.
Now I have been up to lots over the last few months from designing insect based menus for the London public, to helping Andy Oliver out at his new pop- up event; which you will hear about in my blog’s ‘behind the whites’ section. The past month of neglect towards ‘Articuleat’ is to be swiftly resolved. I have some great winter recipes to get you down and dirty in the kitchen during the festive season.
Now, back to the recipe. Remember if you don’t have the time or the patience to make your own puff pastry (I don’t blame you) you can buy it frozen from any good supermarket. However if you do find the time to give it a whirl (well done you) then I’m sure you will absolutely love this dish. For me, there is nothing better than making something completely from scratch, once you conquer puff pastry – you can conquer anything. If it is your first time please do let me know how it goes, I would love to know.
Right so we have Venison wellington, a deliciously rich, gamey meat wrapped within a light, fluffy, buttery puff pastry – now what next? What’s our perfect accompaniment for this tasty dish?
Yep, I’ve got it, mushrooms!! But not just any mushrooms. For a dish with as much character as this you don’t want to dress it up in crap clothes. Girolles, the Levis of the mushroom world and shitake, the Gucci. Iron these up and put them on your wellington and I assure you, it will be turning heads left, right and center.
Now for the last element to complete this delicious winter warmer, a sauce. We have buttery pastry, gamey venison, salty mushrooms; I think a light and sweet caramelised red onion gravy should bring all those flavours together. Infuse this with some smoked pancetta and you would have to be some kind of weirdo not to be able to enjoy this dish (except of course for vegetarians).
(For the puff pastry, makes 1.2kg)
-500g, unsalted butter
-500g, strong white flour
-150ml, cold water
-5 egg yolks
-3tspn, lemon juice
-flour, for rolling
(For the wellington)
-600g venison haunch, rolled into a large sausage shape using cling film
-puff pastry, enough to wrap venison
-2 egg yolks, whisked to attach pastry
-a little olive oil
-Malden salt and cracked black pepper
(For everything else)
-40g, girolles, cleaned with a brush and chopped into thick chunks
-40g, shitake, cleaned and chopped into thick chunks
-60g, diced smoked pancetta
-2 cloves, garlic, diced or crushed
-2 thinly sliced red onions
-300ml, beef stock
-50g, soft brown sugar
-2 heaped tbspn, redcurrant jelly
-20ml, balsamic vinegar
-olive oil for cooking
-20g unsalted butter
Method (Serves 2, with spare puff pastry)
- Firstly let’s get the hard bit out the way, the puff pastry. Now follow these instructions to the word and you shouldn’t have any issues, if you do please let me know. Puff pastry is a lengthy process but once made it can be frozen for future use; I assure you quality comes in making things from scratch. Begin by unwrapping the butter (be sure to keep the wrappers) and cut off 100g of butter to use in the dough. Place the remaining butter between the wrappers and hammer it with a rolling pin until it’s about 2cm thick, roughly the same size as the wrapper and malleable. Keep this cool and aim to have it cold but pliable for rolling, not too soft (I know this is tricky but it needs to be malleable enough to roll, whilst being cold enough not to melt into the pastry).Place the flour and salt in a bowl then get your hands stuck in to rub in the butter. Mix the water, yolks and juice, add this to the bowl and gently knead into a dough. Once complete, wrap it and chill in fridge for half an hour. Next lightly flour the worktop and roll the dough out to just under 1cm thick. Place the butter slab, unwrapped and pull the sides up and over it so they overlap in the middle, and seal them together with a little water. Then do the same with the other two sides – this will completely seal the butter within the dough like a wrapped Christmas present. Lastly hammer the dough out a little with the rolling pin and roll it into a rectangle just under 1cm thick. Brush off any excess flour, fold it in by thirds (like you would a blanket), then wrap it well and chill for an hour. Lastly roll and fold it in this way five more times, spaced at one hour long intervals, use as much flour as you need to stop the butter sticking, should it burst out – but make sure to brush it off the dough when making a blanket fold. Finally wrap the dough well and use immediately or freeze for when you need it. This recipe makes more than you need, if it takes this long why not?
- Now that the pastry is out the way, time for the wellington. Firstly heat the oven to 180C. Unwrap the venison and cover in olive oil, salt and pepper the fry in a dry pan on a high heat briefly to seal the meat (be sure to keep it raw in the center), remove from pan and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out enough puff pastry to wrap the meat into a rectangular shape then place the venison in the center, use a little flour on the worktop if necessary. Brush the egg around the edges of the pastry and the meat, and then tightly wrap it, making sure you seal the meat within the pastry, then leave to rest for 30 minutes. Lastly brush the pastry with egg yolk and sprinkle with salt and pepper, mark the wellington with diagonal knife lines taking care not to cut through the pastry. Cook until golden and crisp (around 20-25 minutes for medium rare) then remove rest and serve.
- Meanwhile make the sauce. Place the butter in a tray, then melt in the oven on 180C, once hot add the pancetta and roast for 15 minutes. Next add the mushrooms and continue to roast for a further 20 minutes. At the same time fry the garlic in hot oil until golden brown and fragrant, then add the red onion and sweat (around 5 minutes). Next add the soft brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook until melted and beginning to caramelise. When ready add the redcurrant jelly and beef stock and continue to simmer until a light pourable consistency. Once mushrooms and pancetta is ready finish the gravy by adding the roasting juices from the tray. Serve the wellington upon the mushrooms and pancetta with a friendly dose of the gravy and enjoy.
Thanks very much for stopping by at Articuleat and I hope you have enjoyed your stay. I always look forward to your feedback so please don’t hesitate to get in touch for any reason whatsoever – I will reply as swiftly as possible.
See you next time,
Eat Well,Follow @sebbyholmes1