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Loin of Highland Venison in Onion Ash with Charred Beetroot, Salt Baked Celeriac and Reindeer Moss

By Scott Davies

Serves 2


Day before:

  1. Toasted reindeer moss/lichen (24 hours)
  2. Onion ash (12 hours)
  3. Salt baked celeriac (2 hours)
  4. Charred beetroot (40 minutes)

1. Toasted Reindeer Moss/Lichen (24 hours in advance)

Preheat the oven to 60°C. Bake gently and slowly overnight.

2. Onion Ash

Ingredients for the Onion Ash:

  • 25 ml Scottish rapeseed oil
  • ½ small onion, peeled and cut into eight wedges
  • ½ small onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 5 g smoked sea salt
  • 8 black peppercorns, toasted and crushed
  • 8 juniper berries, dried

Method for the Onion Ash:

  1. Using a large thick-based pan, heat the rapeseed oil. Coat the onion wedges in the hot oil and cook over a medium heat until blackened on all sides.
  2. Drain the oil and place the onion wedges in the oven at 90°C for 12 hours until it’s dried out and crispy.
  3. Coat the sliced onion in flour and deep fry until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain well.
  4. Mix both forms of onion together with the salt, peppercorns and juniper. Thoroughly blitz in a food processor until smooth and then push the mixture through a sieve to create a fine powder. Reserve to one side until needed.

3. Salt Baked Celeriac

Ingredients for the Salted Baked Celeriac:

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 300 g table salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 small whole celeriac

Method for the Salt Baked Celeriac:

  1. Put the flour, salt, egg whites and water into a mixing bowl. Work the ingredients together until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Place two spoonfuls of the salt paste onto a greaseproof paper lined tray. Place the celeriac on top and then cover with the rest of the paste. Bake at 160°C for two hours. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  3. When cool enough, use a knife to scrape off the salt crust.
  4. Peel the celeriac and rip the flesh into small chunks. Put to one side until needed.

4. Charred Beetroot

Ingredients for the Charred Beetroot:

  • 500 g charcoal
  • 1 large beetroot

Method to cook the Beetroot:

  1. Ignite the charcoal in a small barbecue. Let the charcoal burn for a while until there are no more flames, just glowing red embers.
  2. Place the beetroot on the barbecue and cook for 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. The beetroot should look black and be cooked all the way through. Leave to cool.
  3. Peel off the charred beetroot skin with a knife and then dice into 1cm cubes. Put to one side until needed.

On the day

  1. Sauce (30 minutes)
  2. Chestnut purée (20 minutes)
  3. Cook loins of venison
  4. Garnish
  5. Final flash and heating of all ingredients / assemble finished dish

1. Sauce

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • Fat trimmings from the venison loins
  • Scottish rapeseed oil, for cooking
  • 1 carrot, finely diced into cubes
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced into cubes
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 50 g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 6 juniper berries, crushed
  • 6 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 100 ml port
  • 25 ml bramble vinegar
  • 50 ml brandy
  • 500 ml good quality brown chicken stock
  • 10 wild brambles, cut in half

Method for the Sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan, fry the venison fat trimmings in a little oil for four to five minutes over a medium heat until golden brown.
  2. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook for three to four minutes. Add the mushrooms, thyme, juniper berries, peppercorns and bay leaf and cook for a further two minutes.
  3. Add the port, vinegar and brandy and reduce the sauce by two thirds.
  4. Add the stock and cook on a gentle simmer, skimming now and again, until the sauce is of a rich and smooth consistency.
  5. Finally, drop in the brambles for a few minutes then strain through a fine sieve. Reserve until needed but keep hot.

2. Chestnut Purée

Ingredients for the Chestnut Purée:

  • 200 ml double cream
  • 100 g cooked chestnuts
  • ¼ lemon, juice only

Method for the Chestnut Purée:

  1. Bring the cream, chestnuts and lemon juice to the boil. Blitz in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Taste the purée for acidity and check its consistency and seasoning. Adjust as required.
  3. Pass through a fine sieve and keep hot. Pour into a plastic saucing squeeze bottle when needed.

3. Venison Loin

Ingredients For the Venison Loin:

  • 2 x 125 g pieces of Scottish venison loin, fully trimmed of fat and set aside
  • Smoked salt (sea salt smoked with oak or peat)
  • Scottish rapeseed oil, for cooking

Method to cook the Venison Loin:

  1. Season the venison on all sides with the sea salt and brush with the oil.
  2. Pan fry in a medium hot pan for two minutes on each side. Place in the oven at 140°C for four minutes depending on the thickness of the loin. The core temperature of the loin should be 45°C, which you can check using a temperature probe. Leave to rest for four minutes.
  3. Flash fry under a hot grill for one minute on each side. Then roll the loins in the prepared onion ash. Slice in half, season well and serve.

4. The Garnish

Ingredients for The Garnish:

  • 25 g mix of autumn mushrooms, washed
  • 3 whole chestnuts, cut in half
  • 2 sticks of salsify, peeled
  • 10 g picked kale
  • Dry powder of black pepper, fennel pollen and juniper
  • Salt baked celeriac (prepared earlier)
  • Charred beetroot cubes (prepared earlier)
  • Smoked salt (sea salt smoked with oak or peat)
  • 50 g butter, softened

Method for the Garnish:

  1. Sauté the mushrooms, chestnuts, salsify sticks and kale in a little butter, water and seasoning.
  2. Brush the prepared charred beetroot cubes and salt baked celeriac pieces with the butter and season the beetroot with the smoked salt. Place under a hot grill for two to three minutes until hot.

5. Final Assembly

To serve;

  • Toasted reindeer moss/foraged lichen
  • Venison loins
  • Venison sauce
  • Chestnut purée
  • Garnish
  • 12 wood sorrel leaves

Method

  1. Intersperse all the ingredients into colourful and decorative lines on the plates giving prominence to the sliced loins of venison. Finally, garnish with the delicate toasted reindeer moss on top.