Saturday, 14 November 2015

Venison with Celeriac and Sauce Poiverade

Dish as in the restaurant (This photograph is not my own)


Our lunch date at The Fat Duck is just under two week's away and the excitement is building. Trying (unsuccessfully) to stay away from the likes of Instagram and Tripadvisor in order to keep the experience a complete surprise was a valiant effort for the best part of.....well.......two days....but who could resist a flying cushion and a doll's house that gives you sweets?

So with The Fat Duck on the brain I found myself dipping into Heston's bible of torture and finding the venison dish. The whole dish comprises a sous-vide loin of venison with celeriac prepared three ways (puree, fondant and remoulade) with a chestnut tuile, civet of venison with pearl barley and frankincense tea. Unless you're a complete lunatic or have the world's most well-stocked cupboard you can simplify this, as I have, by omitting the civet and the tea.

Recently I've discovered a fantastic website for meat and fish which are hard to come by in the local supermarket. Kezie food's offer seemingly every type of rare meat such as Iberico pork, Waygu beef and even crocodile meat. I placed an order for venison fillet steaks for the dish along with a ton of Iberico meats at some of the best prices on the internet. It comes in frozen form but that's no detraction from the quality.

 In typical Heston fashion you have to begin the recipe two days in advance...and that, my friends, is just the sauce! Start by making a confit of vegetables which consists of carrots, onions, celery and leek with chopped garlic all sweated in olive oil until golden in colour. Next up burn the alcohol off an entire bottle of red wine (I used shiraz), a side note here would be to use a welding mask as the flame that came off that pan almost left me in need of new eyebrows. Take care to stand well back.
Vegetable Confit
 Beginning the tomato fondue

After adding the wine and confit vegetables to a bowl the next job is the tomato fondue. Heston want's you to place de-skinned tomatoes into a sieve with salt for an hour allowing the juice to drip through.....even though you're going to combine them in a pan anyway and the final sauce will be sieved...feel free to skip this step, as I did, by simply slicing up your tomatoes with all their goodness and adding a pinch of salt once cooking in the pan. Other ingredients for the fondue include a bouquet garni, tabasco, clove, star anise, Worcester sauce, sherry vinegar and ketchup.

Finished tomato fondue

This is supposed to cook for between two and a half to three hours but thankfully mine was finished in around an hour and a half on a low heat. Add this to the wine and vegetables and the good news is there's only one more step to go before you can have a cup of tea and a sit down.

I spotted venison rib's at Leicester market and let me tell you, they are cheap as chips! £1.90 for half a kilo so gladly I made my purchase. Roast these in the oven until golden brown and then add to the wine mixture. The idea here is to impart the roasted flavour into the sauce as the meat will be cooked sous-vide without any roasted flavours. This technique is demonstrated in the fantastic Kitchen Chemistry series which you can find on Youtube.

Venison fillet and bones

The only other advance preparation is to marinate your venison loins with thyme and olive oil for 48 hours. Given that I had two fillet portions as oppose to a log of venison loin I went for 24 hours marinating.

Tuile template
Tuile mix

The real fun begins on the day you serve the dish. First on the list were the chestnut tuiles. I'd bought a jar of chestnut puree from San Lorenzo market in Florence on my honeymoon and after having poor previous experiences with thick dog food-like pastes from tins before I can definitely recommend the jarred stuff.

The tuiles came out remarkably well from my home made template using some lined jotter paper and a pair of scissors.

Reducing the sauce takes around two hours in a pressure cooker but I opted for the open pan method. Reduction took little over 45 minutes and after straining the liquid, reducing again and re-sieving, sauce was the end result - and a good one at that!

It's safe to say celeriac isn't the best looking of vegetables....think white Alba truffle with an insane growth spurt. After peeling off the rough exterior though the inside is white, delicious and versatile - as shown in this dish.

Venison fillet pre-wrapping
Sauce and puree prep

Celeriac discolours pretty quickly so its important to work fast. I sliced some of the remoulade on a mandolin and some by hand into julienne, both were about the same and looked decent. Mixed with the mayonnaise I made earlier completes the remoulade. The trimmings went into making the puree which is mixed with milk and butter to be softened and blitzed.


The celeriac puree turned out silky smooth and tasted incredible, really one of the best puree's I've ever had the pleasure of's about this time in the recipe with the reduced sauce and silky puree that you realise just how good this is going to be.

I decided against using the sous-vide method for the celeriac fondants due to time pressure. So simply cooking them in the remaining clarified butter from the tuile recipe and keeping them warm was easy enough.

Plating up was a bit of a job, starting with the remoulade topped with a tuile. Removing the venison fillets, which had been cooking wrapped in cling film and placed in a sous-vide bag for an hour at 60 degrees, and then slicing into rounds. Two drags of celeriac puree either side of the venison with the fondants down the opposing sides leaves only the sauce to glaze the top of the venison.

The final plate
Birds-eye view

This is the best dish I've ever done. Hands down. In so many ways this dish is perfect. The tuile adds sweetness to the sharp remoulade. The venison is soft and melts away yet full of flavour aided by the roasted flavours of the sauce, its a clever way to highlight the texture of the meat yet keep the flavour of the venison without pan-searing to alter the texture. The puree is smooth, buttery and moreish with the texture of the fondants and crunch of the remoulade its a perfect match for the venison.

Simplifying the dish actually helps you understand and master the techniques and lets the flavours stand out, would it be too complex with the civet and tea? Maybe, but I guess you have to try it to answer that question. All said and done its simply brilliant.

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