This is the first time I’ve had a chance to use the new season’s venison and I picked up a fabulous piece of loin in Ennis Butchers, Rialto, which I am lucky enough to have just around the corner from my house. As with pretty much all tender meat I cook now I did it in the water bath; however, I only found out afterwards about Modernist Cuisine’s warnings that cooking game for prolonged periods at temperatures that don’t inhibit enzymatic activity (generally anything under 60°C) can result in mushy meat.
Thankfully I didn’t encounter this problem but a way around it is to set the bath to 10°C hotter than you want the venison’s final core temperature to be and only cook for around half an hour. Obviously it’s very rough advice and is dependent on the thickness of the meat, its initial temperature and several other variables but it’s useful to know nonetheless.
Aside from cooking the meat sous vide – and the methyl cellulose sweet potato gnocchi – this recipe is technically very conventional and the only slightly unusual facet for some might be the chocolate sauce. This is actually quite a common accompaniment to game, especially hare, and the only change I’ve made is adding a chipotle chilli for its smokiness and heat. The sauce seems very spicy before you finish it but thanks to the fat solubility of the mouth-burning molecule capsaicin when you stir in the butter at the end it really tones everything down.
For the sweet potato gnocchi
5.25g methyl cellulose SGA7C
1 large sweet potato (approx. 400g)
For the venison loin
500g venison loin
15ml grape seed oil
For the celeriac puree
250g celeriac, roughly chopped
1.25g baking soda
For the kale
200g kale, stalks removed and shredded
For the girolles
15ml grape seed oil
For the chocolate sauce
60g butter, cubed and chilled
100g shallots, finely chopped
1 small chipotle chilli
125ml red wine
500ml venison stock
25g dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa but preferably higher)
- For the sweet potato gnocchi, bring the water to the oil and then take off the heat.
- Whisk in the methyl cellulose until completely dissolved (around 2-3 minutes).
- Leave to hydrate in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Prick the sweet potato with a knife a few times and bake for around an hour until very soft.
- Scoop out the flesh from the potato and allow to cool.
- Put the methyl cellulose and 300g of potato flesh into a blender and purée until very smooth.
- Season to taste.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil and using a 15ml measuring spoon drop the sweet potato mixture into the water.
- Repeat until you have 12 gnocchi in the pot and cook for 2 minutes until set.
- Reserve the gnocchi in the hot water or a low oven (keep at a temperature of roughly 80°C) until required.
- For the venison loin, season the meat and vacuum seal.
- Place in a temperature controlled water bath for approximately 1 hour (for a loin of 3cm thickness).
- Heat a pan over a high heat for around five minutes.
- Add the grape seed oil and then fry the loin on each side until well browned on the outside (around 15-20 seconds). Reserve.
- For the celeriac purée, melt 40g of butter in a pressure cooker.
- Add the celeriac, baking soda and a splash of water and mix thoroughly to spread the baking soda evenly.
- Bring the pressure cooker to full pressure over a high heat, shaking the pot occasionally to prevent the celeriac from sticking to the bottom.
- When up to full pressure, reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes.
- Depressurise the cooker by running colder water on the lid.
- Transfer the browned celeriac pieces to a blender along with the milk and butter and puree until very smooth (you may need more or less milk depending on the blender).
- Season to taste and reserve.
- For the kale, heat a frying pan over a medium and melt the butter.
- When it stops foaming, add the kale sauté until wilted.
- Add the pepper and some salt and mix thoroughly. Reserve.
- For the girolles, heat a pan over a high heat and add the grape seed oil.
- Sauté the girolles until slightly browned on the edges (around 5 minutes). Reserve.
- For the chocolate sauce, over a medium heat melt 10g of butter in a pan.
- When it stops foaming, add the shallots and chipotle and sauté until the shallots translucent (around 5 minutes).
- Pour in the red wine and reduce until nearly evaporated.
- Add the venison stock and boil until reduced by three-quarters.
- Take off the heat and strain through a sieve into a clean pan or bowl.
- Grate the chocolate into the sauce and whisk to incorporate.
- Whisk in the butter, one cube at a time until fully incorporated.
- Add the salt and sugar to taste and reserve.
- To plate, lay a bed of the reheated kale down the middle of the plate; cut four 2cm slices off the venison loin and lay on the kale; arrange three gnocchi and some of the reheated girolles around the meat; spoon two large blobs of celeriac puree down either side of the plate; drizzle the chocolate sauce over the venison.