Loin of venison with rosemary and thyme

We were given some very tender loin of venison from a sika deer. Sika deer are a non-native species that have become widespread across the UK, interbreeding with our native species, red deer and roe deer. They pose a threat to the native populations. 

This recipe is from Norman Tebbit’s book of game cookery.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 500g venison loin, divided into portions
  • Vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 6 juniper berries
  • a small teaspoon of sea-salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

  • Mix the herbs, juniper berries, salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar, and grind together. 
  • Sprinkle the herbs onto the meat and set aside until needed. Heat the oven to 180C.
  • About ten minutes before you are ready to eat, heat the oil in a large frying pan until it is good and hot. Sear the meat on all sides, and put into a small roasting tin.
  • Cook in the oven for around 8 minutes, while you sort out the vegetables and mash. When the time is up, remove from the oven and allow the meat to relax.
  • Slice the venison and serve on warmed plates. We had mashed potato, Cumberland sauce, spinach and tender-stem broccoli. 

Duck Soup 🤓

There has been a culling of the Muscovy duck flock in Loch Eport. I am planning on a Persian stew with the jointed duck, made with walnuts and pomegranate molasses. After I jointed the duck, I made a delicious broth from the carcase, and then followed and adapted a recipe that I found online, to cover the ingredients available locally. 

The whole time, I was thinking of this classic film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_Soup_(1933_film) 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 duck carcase, chopped into three to fit into the stock pot
  • 2 small onions, chopped into quarters
  • Parsley – could be stalks or leaves
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 head of garlic, cloves chopped across the middle
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2+ bayleaves – I used 4 small leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 3 medium or 1 very large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 can of flageolet beans (not always available, I used haricot beans instead)
  • 40g pearl barley
  • 150g chard or spinach, chopped roughly
  • 50ml sherry
  • salt to taste – about a teaspoonful
  • freshly ground pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Put the duck carcase, onions, parsley, porcini mushrooms, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns into the stock pot, and fill with water to cover everything. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. 
  • Strain the stock, and put in a soup pan. Pick any meat off the carcase and reserve
  • Add the barley, and simmer for 45 minutes. 
  • Add the carrots, celery, bring to a simmer again for 10 minutes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beans and spinach, and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • Add the sherry and any duck meat. 

Serve in large soup bowls, garnished with grated parmesan, and with a good bread, such as sour-dough bread. You could also drizzle good quality olive oil on the soup or the bread. 

Curried mutton pie

This is a recipe from ‘Original Flava’ – an excellent starter for West Indian cookery. I didn’t follow the recipe in the book (do I ever) but it reflects my own tastes and also what is available in the garden. I am looking out recipes to use up the last of the maincrop potatoes for last year, and this one fit the bill well. Also, who knew that adding creamed coconut or coconut milk to mashed potato was so good.

Remember to start the night before, and then allow a couple of hours cooking time on the day of eating.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.2kg mutton, boned and diced
  • 1 tbsp West Indian curry powder (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • salt and pepper (approx 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 125ml water
  • 1/2 tsp scotch bonnet pepper paste, or to taste
  • 2 carrots or 1 turnip, diced.
  • 6+ large maincrop potatoes, such as Maris Piper or Arran Victory, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 125ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • A pinch of thyme leaves

METHOD:

  • Put the mutton in a plastic container with the curry powder, dried thyme, ginger, allspice, salt and pepper, and leave in the fridge overnight. 
  • In a large cooking pot, heat the oil and then gently fry the onion and garlic until they are soft
  • Add the spiced mutton, and fry until browned. 
  • Add the 200m coconut milk, water, scotch bonnet and chopped carrots/turnip and mix. Cook on a low heat for a couple of hours until the meat is very tender. Adjust seasoning if required.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C – Gas 4
  • Steam the potatoes for around 15 minutes, until soft and cooked through
  • Mash the potatoes with 125ml coconut milk, butter, salt and pepper, and a pinch of thyme leaves. (The original recipe includes chilli flakes, but I think it is better to have the potato as a contrast, not so spicy)
  • Put the stewed mutton in a casserole dish or deep pie dish, top with the mashed potato, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the mashed potato is beginning to brown. 

I served this with sprouts. It would also be good with a spinach side dish.

 

Mutton Paprika

This stew is so tender, so tasty, and so simple. Tonight we served it with mashed potatoes, but it is also great with dumplings. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 kg neck of mutton or lamb, chopped
  • 3 tbsp mild paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml stock
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • chopped parsley 

METHOD:

  • Check the meat over, remove any excess fat or loose bits of splintered bone. I leave the neck chops with the bone in. 
  • Mix the spices, salt and pepper, flour and meat together in a container, seal it and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to cook; this could be overnight, but don’t worry if you forget and don’t have so much time. 
  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole pan, and gently fry the onions until they are soft. 
  • Add the meat and heat through, before adding the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 hours or so. This can be done in the oven, temp 130 C
  • Once it is cooked, add the lemon juice (which is optional) and serve garnished with chopped parsley. 
  • If you want dumplings, mix 225g self-raising flour with 110g suet and chopped parsley, and add enough ice-cold water to make a loose dough. Make balls of dough about the size of walnuts, and drop them into the stew. Let them cook for around 20 minutes. 

Delicious. Also, adaptable. You can swap around the stock, add wine, add a few herbs such as bay leaves and oregano, add sliced potatoes for the last hour of cooking instead of dumplings. 

Mutton Curry, Jamaican style

I made this with some odd cuts of mutton from the freezer, I had about 1kg of meat, including some ribs and other odds and ends. I started with a recipe from Original Flava for Curry Goat, and scaled up the ingredients. There’s actually several versions on their website, so I didn’t feel so bad adjusting it to fit what I had. I made the main part of the stew the night before I needed it, but because the ingredients needed marinaded, I actually started the prep on Tuesday for a meal on Thursday. The actual cooking part is very easy, and the end result is very very tasty, and quite hot. 

The other thing that would be good to get ahead of starting is some scotch bonnet pepper paste, ground allspice and Caribbean curry powder, which is quite mild. They are all available online. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg mutton, cut into chunks about 3cm across
  • Caribbean curry powder – around 3 tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2cm ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 cm ginger root, chopped
  • 1 can of coconut milk (I only had around 300ml, not a full can, it was still delicious)
  • 300ml vegetable stock or water
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 6 small waxy potatoes, cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 1/3 tsp scotch bonnet chilli paste
  • If you wish, add chopped tomatoes. I added two ripe tomatoes that were minding their own business in the vegetable rack.

METHOD:

  • Chop the meat, leave bones in. In a large container with a lid, mix the mutton with 1 tbsp curry powder, salt, pepper, allspice and turmeric, and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight. 
  • The next day, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large pan and add a tablespoonful of curry powder. Fry the meat in batches, and set the browned meat aside in a bowl. 
  • Check there is enough oil in the pan, and the fry the onion over a medium to high heat, until it is beginning to brown, and then add the ginger and garlic. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes
  • Add a little coconut milk and the scotch bonnet paste, mix it in and then add the mutton back into the pan. Stir it all together and then add the rest of the coconut milk, tomatoes, another 2 tbsp of curry powder, thyme and stock, and then cook the stew in a slow oven, around 150C for 2 hours. Once this step is complete, you could freeze the stew or put it in the fridge ready to finish the cooking later. 
  • Add the potatoes and the sliced spring onions, and simmer for another 30 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked. 

    This stew is one of those that benefits from being eaten the day after, as the flavours mingle together. Serve with rice. 

Wild goose Jamaican style

The flavour of wild goose goes well with peppers. This spicy stew is adapted from a recipe for beef stew from ‘Original Flava’

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 goose breasts, around 450g meat, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp scotch bonnet pepper paste
  • 150ml stock
  • 150ml Guinness or other stout
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 250g baby potatoes, cleaned. Cut large potatoes into chunks. 

METHOD:

  • Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a plastic container with the diced goose breasts, salt and pepper, the allspice and soy sauce and mix together. Leave in the fridge overnight. 
  • In the morning, stir in 1 tbsp flour, and let that soak up any spare liquid. 
  • Heat olive oil in a casserole pan, and fry the meat until it is browned. Remove from the pot and set aside. 
  • If necessary, add another splash of oil and fry the onion, garlic and peppers until they are really soft. 
  • Add the Guinness and stir, to get anything stuck from the bottom of the pot mixed in. 
  • Add the beef, beef stock, scotch bonnet paste, thyme and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours. I do this in a low oven, around 150C.
  • Add the potatoes and carrots, and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are cooked. 

Serve with white rice. The first time of trying, I added extra potatoes and didn’t add the rice, and it was a full meal in one pot. 

Sika venison loin – ‘Wellington’

I am lucky. I know someone who had some extremely high-quality sika venison available, and I got a couple of cuts. One cut was a lovely 450g  piece of meat, the loin. Sika deer are smaller than our red deer, but in evolutionary terms, are quite similar. They are originally from Japan and neighbouring countries in the far east, and are an introduced species in Europe. 

I made this dish based on a recipe from Gordon Ramsey, adapted to suit. Remember to take your time, as the ingredients need to be chilled and resting in between bouts of cooking. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g sika loin
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • around 400g mushrooms
  • 50g butter
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine
  • Salt, pepper, a grate of nutmeg
  • 2 packs of prosciutto, around 10 to 12 slices
  • 320g jus-rol rolled puff pastry (one pack)
  • 1 egg, beaten, or one egg yolk beaten with a little water

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 220C
  • While it is heating, put the meat on a roasting tray, brush with olive oil, and season with pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool, then chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes
  • Chop the mushrooms to your preferred texture, 
  • Heat 50g butter with 2 tbsp olive oil, add the thyme and the mushrooms and fry gently for around 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft. 
  • Add seasoning, and the white wine, and cook until the wine has been absorbed. Don’t worry if the mixture seems loose, the venison needs a little oil. Once the mushrooms are cooked, remove the thyme and set to cool a little. 
  • On a clean linen cloth or clingfilm, lay out the prosciutto so that it is about double thickness, overlapped and about the length of the venison. Spread the cool fried mushrooms over the prosciutto and then place the venison on top. Use the cloth or cling-film to roll up the venison inside the prosciutto, and to tighten the parcel together. Put this in the fridge to rest. 
  • Take out the pastry, lay it out on the paper it came wrapped in, and use a rolling-pin to neaten it up. Unravel the venison/prosciutto parcel and place it along one side of the pastry, so that there is space to fold the pastry over the top. Think of a giant Cornish pasty. Before you fold over, brush the bare pastry and the top and sides of the venison parcel. Fold the pastry over, press and crimp to seal the edges, and transfer back to the roasting tray. Brush the surface with the egg wash, and use the back of a knife to mark diagonal scores along the pastry.  Chill for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 200C. Cook the Wellington for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to stand for around 10 minutes before slicing into thick portions.

We served this with celeriac and potato mash, and garden carrots simmered in a little white wine, butter and thyme. 

Shepherd’s pie

There were several reasons to cook this tonight. First of all, we have a lot of fresh vegetables in the garden, and Malcolm requested plain cabbage, no messing with stir fries or salad, just lightly boiled, seasoned and buttered. Next, we had some lamb in the freezer, and I wanted to test out a new mincer. Also, we have some lovely potatoes coming in, the crop we are eating just now is Arran Pilot, and I wanted to see how well they mashed. They mashed very well indeed. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, in small chunks
  • 500g lean minced lamb
  • 500ml lamb or beef stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 900g potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 75g – 85g butter
  • milk, to achieve consistency
  • salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and when it is hot, add the onion and carrots, and cook over a medium heat until the onion is softening
  • Add the minced lamb, and turn the heat up, browning the mince
  • Add the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and stock, and bring to a simmer. 
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then uncover and simmer another 20 minutes to reduce the liquid. Season to taste with pepper and salt, if required. 
  • Boil the chopped potatoes in salted water, and drain. Mash with the butter, and a little milk to make a soft smooth mash. 
  • Add the mince to an oven-proof dish, and then put the mashed potatoes on top, using a fork to make patterns that will crisp up in the oven. 
  • At this point, the pie can be frozen or put in the fridge for cooking later
  • To cook the pie, bake for around 30 minutes. Leave to stand a few minutes before serving. 

To cook the cabbage, I cut it into wedges, cooked it for around 5 minutes in boiling water, then I poured the water off, and added salt, pepper and butter. 

Pasticcio – Greek baked macaroni with lamb mince

This feeds about eight people, or six very hungry teenagers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 450g lamb mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 450g macaroni
  • 250g ricotta
  • 75g parmesan
  • 50ml cream
  • 2-3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg

METHOD:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil, and very gently fry the onion for around ten minutes. Towards the end of the cooking, add the chopped garlic. 
  • Add the lamb mince, and turn the heat up to medium. Stir it into the hot oil to brown it, around 5 minutes. Add the oregano and cinnamon as you cook the mince
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and the stock cube, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, then take the lid off and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper at the end of cooking. 
  • Next, cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the pack. 
  • In a bowl, combine the ricotta, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs. Stir in 50g of grated parmesan. Stir in the cooked macaroni
  • Pour the mince into a large lasagne dish, and then top this with the macaroni. Sprinkle the top with around 25g grated parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. 

I served this with a green salad. It is good the next day served at room temperature. 

Chicken curry baked in foil

This is a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey that works well with a busy schedule. The meal can be prepared ahead of time, and just popped into the oven to cook it. It goes well with plain basmati rice and a salad. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika (Hungarian, sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/4 tsp grated ginger root
  •  3 tbsp full fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • approx 650g skinned chicken pieces. Ensure that there are some deep incisions in the flesh

METHOD:

  • Mix all of the ingredients except the chicken in a bowl. 
  • Rub the marinade into the chicken, including into the incisions. 
  • Put the chicken pieces in a single layer on a bit of tin foil, and then fold the sides, top and bottom of the foil over the chicken to make a sealed packet. Leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours. 
  • Preheat the oven to 200C. 
  • Put the whole packet in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. You can try opening the packet to turn the chicken half way through, but I find it makes little difference.