The Sika deer breed Chef Kerry uses for her dish was shot in nearby Wicklow, Ireland. The Sika deer are Ireland's most common non-native deer species and originated from Japan. One stag and three hinds were the original breeding stock for all Sika deer in Ireland. These were introduced by Lord Powerscourt in 1860. Where Kerry lives, Powerscourt is 5 minutes away. The animal was entirely used including bones for stock for the sauce. Venison is one of the most sustainable meats as their species is in abundance in Ireland.
Salt baking - this traditional technique uses salt to coat the food creating a crust which locks in the juices when baked - in this case gently steaming the beetroots.
Contemporary Plating - Learn modern plating techniques with Kerry, taking you through the elements of creating the perfect plate.
Natural Puree - follow the step by step guide of creating a puree, from understanding the science behind natural thickening to learning how to create a well-seasoned cooking liquor.
Equipment needed: 1x frying pan, 1x hand blender, 1x small saucepan, 1x medium saucepan
No pre-lesson preparation needed.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and remove your venison from the fridge allowing it to come up to room temperature.
First up we are going to get started on the longest bit of the recipe - the salt-baked beetroot. To a square of tin foil, place your beetroot and a generous pinch of salt, wrapping tightly. Now we're going to place this into the pre-heated oven and cook them for about 40 minutes, at this point the knife will go in nice and easily.
Taking a large bowl, your large red beetroots and an orange. Start peeling the beetroot, once the beetroot is peeled trim the root away with a small pairing knife. Repeat this across all of our beetroots and place to one side. Give your hands a wash so the stains don't set in and then start to prepare the cooking liquor.
Into a high sided pan peel the zest of an orange leaving as much of the white pith on the fruit as possible. Once peeled, cut in half and juice the whole orange into the pan. Add the peeled beetroots and then cover with water. Bring over to the hob on a medium to high heat and bring to the boil. Leave to cook on a simmer for about 30-35 minutes.
Now let's get going on the sauce prep. To a clean worktop place a chopping board with a wet cloth underneath. Begin to prep your shallot by topping and tailing it, peeling it and cutting it in half length ways. Dice the shallot and place into a small bowl so it is all ready to go when we make our sauce.
Now enough time has probably passed to check our beetroot. Taking a knife pierce into the foiled beetroot, if your knife pulls away nice and easily (much like a baked potato) remove them from the oven and leave to cool for roughly 15 minutes. Once cool enough, open the beetroot up (keeping the different colours separate from each other) and begin to peel them. Starting with the golden beetroot, use a cloth to lightly push away the skin from the inner flesh using a gentle rubbing motion. Repeat across all of the beetroot keeping the different colours separate. Once peeled cut away any of the stubborn bits of skin that remained after the peeling process, keeping that rounded shape with our knife.
To prepare the beetroot for the garnish of the dish, half it, quarter it, and then half that wedge once more. Place it into a tray and continue to portion the rest of the vegetables so we have consistent sized garnish when we come to serve. Leave in a warm place until serving.
Now, let's turn our attention to the beetroot for our puree. Once cooked and they have begun to slightly fall apart, remove from the heat and strain away from the cooking liquid (keeping the liquid back for later). Place into a high sided jug along with a splash of the liqueur. Begin to puree with a hand blender or food processor creating a deep red liquid, once you begin to see a smooth puree, pause and let's season it up. In this recipe I am going to season with a touch of balsamic vinegar, and flakey sea salt. Blend the seasonings back through, taste and adjust accordingly.
Now it is seasoned pass it through a fine sieve removing any lumps and creating a smooth and forgiving pure that will look amazing on our plate.
So now it is time to make our sauce. Take a deep saucepan and bring it up to a medium heat with a splash of oil. Add our diced shallot and allow to sweat down becoming translucent and sweet. Once softened go in with the 30ml of Gin and juniper berries and then lastly in with our blackberries. Give this a good stir coating the blackberries in the remaining bits of gin and leave to cook on a low-medium heat, stirring and crushing the blackberries as we go. This will reduce down over a couple of minutes and become a jammy texture. Add your stock and leave to reduce down by half (this will probably take 5 - 10 minutes).
Once the sauce has reduced, similarly to our puree lets pass it through a fine sieve and into a clean sauce pan. Leave it to the side until we need it later on.
Now let's get to the star of the show, our Venison. Place a heavy based frying pan or skillet onto the heat and allow to become searing hot. The loin of the venison which we have allowed to come up to room temperature should be seasoned generously with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper all over.
To the hot pan add a drizzle of oil and add our venison, leaving to sear for a minute or so on one side, lift and sear on the other side for another minute or so once that colour had sear has been achieved roll over to its sides and colour once more. Remove from the pan and onto a plate and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
Turn the pan back onto the heat on a medium to high heat. Add the butter in and allow it to melt and foam, go back in with the fillets to this bath of butter and baste throughout the next 2 minutes or so. We are looking for a medium rare (around 55c on a food probe) before resting a second time for 5-10 minutes.
Now lets get plating our recipe. Take the rested Venison and using paper towel remove any excess juices away from the fillet. Place onto your chopping board and cut barrels on a slight angle. Take a nice helping of the beetroot puree onto the plate slightly off of the centre (giving us space to create the smear effect take a pallet knife, spoon or spatular move the puree from one side of the plate to the other.
Now with this blank canvas start to place your beetroot around the plate along with the venison. Now with our plate almost ready to serve, garnish with watercress or any green herb and then finish with the sauce.
Enjoy and serve!
Wrapping the beetroot individually allows us to maintain all the colours from the different varieties of beetroot in this recipe.
Salt-baking like this is a really easy way of seasoning the beetroots throughout and helping retain all their flavour.
It is best practice whenever you are cooking to work with a waste bowl. This allows you to work cleanly and efficiently.
Remember to place a damp cloth underneath your chopping board so it doesn't slip and move when we are using it.
Don't worry about any pips going into the cooking liquid, this sauce is going to be strained and passed at the end of the recipe.
It's important to leave the beetroots to cook fully to almost a crumbly, mash potato like texture. This will allow us to fully puree the beetroot and create a velvety consistency.
I like to keep all the trimmings I have from preparing vegetables in an airtight container in my freezer, that way when I go to create a stock I can use all the leftover cuts and reduce wastage in my home.
Why do onions make us cry?
The "lacrimator" (a sulphur chemical in the onion) causes us to cry, this volatile chemical gets released into the air and lands in our eyes and nose when damaged by our knife. This then attacks the nerve endings directly causing our eyes to produce water to try and flush it out. If you are always bothered by this, soak your onions (skin and all) in ice cold water for roughly an hour. This will slow down the reaction of the chemicals that make us cry and also make our onions easier to peel!
Allow your beetroots to cool enough for you to handle and then peel straightaway. If they are left for too long the skins will begin to tighten back up and we will struggle to peel them by hand.
Using a cloth to peel the beetroot gives us slightly more abrasion against the skin and also gives our hands some protection against the heat - you can also use a small knife to peel back the skin, taking care not to remove any of the flesh.
When cutting for plating, whether it's a carrot or a wedge of beetroot like this recipe, try to keep your garnish to a size that would sit in a tablespoon.
Purees are often made by cooking the vegetables (or fruits) to begin with, to soften the tissues, break apart cells and release their thickening molecules (which is often pectin). Some vegetables are richer in pectins than others which is why you will find those vegetables achieve a superior smoothness - but this also highlights the need of cooking our beetroots in the pan for slightly longer than we normally would.
Remember to add the liquid little by little when creating the puree. We can always add more but we will find it very hard to take it away.
When passing a puree like this, use the back of your spatular to press the puree through as well as banging gently the side of the sieve with the outside of your hand. Once passed through, remember to scrape the underside of the sieve.
A key way to check any sauce or puree for its viscosity is by running a tablespoon through the sauce to coat it, and then running your pinky finger across the back of the spoon. If the sauce parts and holds the line it is good to go.
We aren't looking for any colour on our shallot, the juniper and the gin will already bring a bitterness to our sauce so we really want to focus on bringing out the natural sweetness in the allium.
Like our puree, crushing and bruising our blackberries while cooking them will help release the pectin in the fruit which will naturally thicken our sauce.
When passing our sauce, remember our techniques from before and also to really squeeze out the juices and flavours from the berries and shallots.
Venison is in abundance across the world particularly in Ireland and the UK which means it is incredibly sustainable and has a high traceability due to the way it is reared and shot - making it the perfect meat to start this module with.
In today's recipe we are using the loin. This tender cut of meat is incredibly lean and quick to cook, due to its lack of work as muscle. Game has its appeal not only due to its sustainable credentials but also its flavour. "Gaminess" has a rich and variable flavour, thanks to its varied diet, age and exercise.
When cooking meat various reactions are taking place that are helping us achieve flavour and tenderisation.
The Maillard reaction is a complex reaction responsible for the cooked colour and flavour. Taking place at 120°C/248°F and above the reaction between a carbohydrate molecule and an amino acid. An unstable reaction takes place, undergoing further changes it creates hundreds of different by-products, mostly dark colouration and an intense flavour.
This reaction happens when any sugar molecules are present in what we are cooking. Once at 160°C/320°F and above, our meat will begin to colour more darkly as the sugar begins to melt. The many chemical reactions in this complex process create hundreds of different reaction products, such as sour acids, sweet and bitter derivatives, brown colouring and fragrant molecules.
This technique is used across many different dishes and cuisines - the way to master it is by tipping your pan back so the butter trickles down to the base of our pan and then with a table spoon, spooning the foaming butter over the loins.
Similarly to Daniel and Alison's recipes last month, we need to make sure we have all our garnish and utensils to hand when plating. Grab a large tray and arrange the garnish and sauces in their own separate sections, alongside have a chopping board and your plates as well as your knife and some tablespoons.
Make sure all of your garnish is hot, by heating our sauces on the hob and flashing the beetroot in a hot oven.