Saddle of Venison, Celeriac and Sauce Poivrade, Civet of Venison with Pearl Barley, Venison and Frankincense Tea
Specialty Equipment: water bath, digital thermometer, pressure cooker, vacuum machine, PacoJet, rotary evaporator
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F, gellan LT100, golden frankincense tears, soy lecithin
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
This is one of those crazy ass Fat Duck dishes. A main course consisting of three parts requiring lots of preparation time and patience. I’m feeling pretty good writing about it, in that I finished buying the ingredients, cooked everything, photographed the components and put it all online. Phew. A side effect is the fear that has taken over me of cooking the last main course, the lamb extravaganza. I shiver just thinking about it. Where are those straightforward whisk(e)y gums when you need them!
Anyway, on with the extravaganza of today (actually the past week), venison. The recipe instructs to by a whole saddle of deer. I would have loved to take home a saddle of venison, but those things weigh almost 6kg. I talked to the butcher of the poultry section of the wholesaler I regularly visit and explained what I needed. He said they sold the back part of the loin butchered and all. A saddle consists of bones, the two fillets and two loins. It’s difficult to purchase the top part of the loin separated from the saddle, because it is the best part, and is often reserved for the customers buying a whole saddle. I knew I would cook it on a low temperature, so I was more than happy with the bottom, ‘lesser’ part of the loin.
What I did get was real game. The venison I got was not farmed, but true dear from the forests of Austria.
The first step was marinating the loin with thyme for 48 hours. After marinating you have to roll it up to give it an even shape, and vacuum pack it in 150g portions.
I bought, as it turned out at home, good venison bones. They were pretty expensive, but they had lots of meat attached to them and were great for stock. One small problem was that the bones were not cut in smaller pieces, so they needed to be chopped up at home. Thanks to some help they were chopped up, actually sawed up, in no time.
The consommé part of the dish is made similar to the one from the Jelly of Quail recipe: a pressure cooker and ice filtration.
As a substitute to a perforated tray I pierced a plastic container. Worked just as well.
The nasty part of the stock left behind.
Frankincense essential oil is used to flavor the consommé and give it, quote, ‘a medieval, churchy character’. A problem at home is the need for a rotary evaporator to distill the essential oil from golden frankincense tears, so I just bought frankincense essential oil.
The second use of the bones was for the sauce. Oh my god, I’ve made sauces, but none as elaborate as this one. You have to cook a number of vegetables to a caramel color, make a 3-hour tomato fondue and marinate the bones in these two preparations and some Syrah wine for 48 hours. I’m down with everything, but the precision for the confit of vegetables and tomato fondue felt a bit extreme for the small part they played, weight wise, in the final sauce.
You have to finish the sauce, just before serving, with blood cream, made form whipping cream and venison bones. A vacuum machine and a water bath are extremely useful to produce the desired result instead of monitoring and keeping the cream at 50˚C in a pan. I’ll take any perk I can at this moment.
To the best part of the recipe, at least to me, the celeriac preparations. I never really use celeriac in dishes, maybe raw in salad or cooked with sauerkraut, but that’s about it. In this recipe it has tree preparation methods: pureed, raw and poached (Fat Duck style). For the poached celeriac you have to cut them in 3 x 4cm rectangles, poach them for 4½ hours in a 83˚C water bath, pan-fry them and coat them in chicken stock (to finish I cut them in half instead of in thirds, to give them the shape as in the Fat Duck photo). I had these little buggers in restaurant Ivy a while back and I knew what I was in for, celeriac like nothing else. Pure deliciousness.
Part two of the celeriac is a straightforward celeriac remoulade.
The third part is a puree. It is made by cooking thin slices of celeriac in butter, cooking it off in whole milk and pureeing it. In the Fat Duck it is put through a PacoJet to insure optimal smoothness. What I did was blend it for 10 minutes in a thermomix at 80˚C (to keep it warm). It came out extremely smooth, so my advice is to blend the living shit out of the celeriac. I think the best thing for purees is keeping it in the blender for some time and not pull it out after a few turns of the knife.
For the civet side dish you have to fry pearl barley with shallot and garlic, cook it in chicken stock and finish it with Madeira. When it is just soft you have to put it on a chilled tray. Before serving you have to finish it with celeriac puree, sauce poivrade, sherry vinegar, foie gras, venison marrow and chicken stock. I substituted the foie gras and venison with butter for the sake of sanity.
On top of the civet lies a thin red wine jelly disc, made from Shiraz wine, Maury wine, gellan F and gellan LT100. I used port instead of Maury wine, because I had it at hand and when making the Radish Ravioli of Oyster I used it and thought it tasted just like port.
To final garnish for the side dish is a foam made from Shiraz win, Maury wine (I used port) and soy lecithin.
Of course the humble onion is not absent from this dish. I must say I’ve really come to love the uses of onion in this book. They are extremely tasty as vegetable, on its own, instead of a base for other preparations. This time they are cooked in a bag in the microwave and finished by pan-frying them.
You still with me? I’m a bit intoxicated at the moment, so not really a time to write up on this dish. Hopefully it all makes sense.
The final component is a chestnut tuile, made from sweet chestnut puree, clarified butter, flour, egg whites and fleur de sel. I went sort of ghetto style with my tuile templates, using regular printing paper and a scissor.
To finish I heated the civet base, frothed the red wine foam, heated the celeriac fondants, heated the celeriac puree, cooked the venison in a water bath, warmed the sauce poivrade and warmed the onions. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but at this time it was absolute mayhem in the kitchen, juggling the food, lights and camera at the same time.
Kept the edge of the plate clean free from foam, so you can see all the layers.
Can you believe it, but at the last step the cosommé went cloudy. I mixed it with honey, spices and herbs and for some reason it went pear shaped. A bit annoying when you just let is defrost for 2 days to get a clear stock. Suck it up I guess.
Wow. I could spend lots of word describing the dish, but ‘wow’ would really suffice. Celeriac puree Fat Duck style is like eating smooth celeriac butter. The fondants are soft, yet firm and bursting with flavor, while looking like upscale celeriac models. Don’t get me started on the venison, which was like eating the softest pate.
All this was complemented by a pearl barley side dish bursting with flavor, sort of overwhelming you while eating. It looks innocent enough, but as I said before, looks can be deceiving.
To finish everything off you have the consommé. I think it is safe to say my frankincense essential oil is not as good as the home made one from The Fat Duck, because it didn’t have the medieval, churchy transportive character of the original. Still good, but not the thing that brings everything together. Would love to try the consommé as served in The Fat Duck.
In all, it was a lot work, but also a lot of flavor. Highly recommended, just clear you schedule.