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Recipe Development: Venison with Salt-baked Beetroot
Overview

In this week's dish Kerry shares her fine dining experience showing you how to think about plating, exploring colour, height and texture. It's also a dish that is heavily connected to the land of her local area which has a big influence on the flavours she uses. This week encourages you to look at what sustainability means in your area from supporting a local producer to cooking closely alongside the seasons.

Development Stages

Key Components:

Plating - a big part of Kerry's plating is colour. Balancing the bright red puree which comes from the traditional beetroot and balsamic vinegar with the green watercress. She also uses different varieties of beetroot for aesthetics - the striking stripes of the candy beetroot and the sunset orange of the golden beetroot. The watercress not only adds a spicy note to the dish but also adds height for visual interest in an otherwise level dish.

Caramelisation - colour means flavour when it comes to meat. The venison in this dish is flash-fried at a high temperature to produce that outer caramelisation.

Cooking with a lean meat - because venison loin is a lean cut, Kerry sears the loin and then uses a resting technique to not overcook the meat and to allow the juices to seal back in before the final bath in butter to get it back up to temperature for serving.

Seasons - a key aspect of this dish are the seasons. Keeping an eye on the season for game meat, as well as using vegetables that are in the height of season for maximum flavour and for a more sustainable way of consuming produce. When Kerry was putting together her dish, beetroot was in season, but feel free to use other root vegetables that are in season at the time of making your dish.

Local terrain - the gin used in the sauce is made using local botanicals, the vegetables are grown by producers local to Kerry with a flavour influenced by the make up of the local soil and the venison meat she uses, is from her local area where the Sika deer breed was first introduced to Ireland.

Teachings:

  1. 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.
  2. Contemporary Plating - Learn modern plating techniques with Kerry, taking you through the elements of creating the perfect plate.
  3. 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.

Make It Your Own:

  1. Meat - when deciding what meat to use, have a look what's in your local area and what game is in season for example, you could also use wild boar or rabbit. If game or wild meats aren't as accessible in your area or not in your budget, you could look at cheaper off-cuts from your local butcher like a pork off-cut. If you're looking to make a vegetarian alternative, take inspiration from the stronger, wilder flavours of Kerry's dish for example using a fleshy, portobello mushroom and chestnuts for an earthy flavour.
  2. Vegetables for salt-baking - you can play around with different root vegetables such as, carrots, turnips or celeriac. When thinking about the colour of your dish, explore different varieties of vegetables, so when using carrots for example, you could use a mix of orange, yellow and purple varieties. To bring out an even sweeter flavour, you could also salt bake to the point of overcooking which also will make it suitable for pureeing. Also for a sweeter dish, you can even try different fruits - salt-baked pear or apple are both delicious options.
  3. The spirit - Kerry uses a gin that uses wild botanicals from Glendalough, but have a look at what's local to you and represents your surrounding terrain. When thinking about the flavour, think about an alcohol that matches the other elements of your dish including your meat and the seasonal fruit you decide to use for example, a local cider, paired with apple and pork. And if you want to make your sauce alcohol free, you can add other flavours to your sauce which complements the fresh, "piney" flavour of juniper (the base ingredient for gin).
  4. Water cress - keeping in the main functions of providing colour, height and flavour, have a look at what is available at your local market to inspire your creation. Wild garlic, chives and three-cornered leek work well. Also use the seasons as your inspiration and if you're feeling adventurous you could even try foraging in your local area (just make sure you're certain about what you're picking to avoid using anything toxic or poisonous!).
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Rassa Customer
Lizzy Andersen
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James Haward
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Philip Reyes
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Milly Braxton
Kerry Harvey
I've worked in Michelin kitchens around the world including Ireland's Chapter One and I'm keen to make Irish fine dining more accessible.