This is the first of my Autumn Fruits Cookalong recipes. Venison is not a cheap meat but it is lean and delicious. As it is such a lean meat I decided to wrap the meat in streaky bacon so that it wouldn't dry out while roasting. The blackberry sauce paired so well with the meat, I'm sorry that I never tried it before, but I will definitely be keeping this recipe up my sleeve for future autumn feasts.
To make the blackberry sauce I slightly modified this recipe from Gordon Ramsay. The venison preparation has been handed down from my Danish grandfather, who is something of an expert on the preparation of game, having been shooting and eating it for most of his life.
Apologies in advance for some of the pictures, both myself and my mum (who took some of the pictures) were suffering from serious shaky hands. I've taken the best possible version of each shot and hopefully you can make out what's going on.
This recipe starts out the night before you want to serve the dish. This is to prepare the venison so that it is both tender and not so gamey in taste. This step is not essential but if you do it you will end up with a very flavoursome piece of meat that's not overpoweringly gamey.
I used a whole saddle of venison for this recipe and had it cut in two by the butcher so that it would fit into my roasting tin better.
The first thing to do in this recipe, the night before you cook it, is to put the venison into a deep dish or basin and pour in the buttermilk until all the meat is covered. Leave in a cool place overnight, away from any animals you may have in the house. One litre of buttermilk was enough for the amount of venison I was using to be covered, but if you were using more meat you would probably need additional buttermilk.
Fast forward to the evening you intend to cook the venison. First things first, preheat the oven to 200°C. Now to the venison, the buttermilk will look a little bloody but that's normal. Remove the meat and throw away the buttermilk.
Place the vension onto a plate and wipe off the excess buttermilk with a sheet of kitchen roll. This is quite important as you don't want the flavour of the buttermilk to interfere with the taste of the meat. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you do want to remove as much as possible. Leave the meat to one side while you prepare the bacon to wrap it in.
Lay half the bacon out in your roasting tray side by side, slightly overlapping. Then place one piece of the venison on top and wrap the end of the bacon across the top, ensuring that the venison is completely covered.
Move the completed piece of venison to one side of the roasting tray and repeat the above steps for the other half of the venison.
Season the top of the venison bacon rolls with a little black pepper and place in the oven for 25 - 30 mins. At which point the bacon should be just crispy and the meat inside a little pink in the centre.
While the venison is cooking it's time to put together the blackberry sauce.
Put 275g of the blackberries into a saucepan with the red wine and the chicken stock. I had a consulation with my dad about the type of wine to use in the sauce. He thought that it would be best to use a fruity wine, so in the end we picked a Côtes du Rhône, which worked extremely well.
Bring to the boil and leave for 10 mins until the blackberries have gotten soft.
Set up a sieve over a bowl or jug and work the blackberries through it, until you're left with pulp and pips. Scrape the underside of the sieve into the jug and the pour the contents back into the pot.
Add the honey and the redcurrant jelly and bring back to the boil. Then let simmer until reduced by half.
At this point the venison should be ready to come out of the oven. Place it on a carving board and let it rest while your finish the sauce.
Put the butter and 2 tablespoons of the juices from the bacon and venison into the sauce. Whisk the butter into the sauce until it has completely melted in.
The sauce should now be smooth and silky. Add the remaining blackberries into the sauce, let them cook a little. Taste the sauce and season with a little salt and pepper.
Slice the venison and serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables of your choice. Spoon the sauce over the meat and potato. That's it, a delicious autumnal dinner.