What a treat was in store for the participants of the “Game On: Cooking with Venison” class on Saturday at Chorlton High School which was hosted by the award-winning Executive Head Chef Robert Owen Brown from The Mark Addy in Manchester.
On the menu were three delicious-sounding dishes:
1. Slow-braised venison haunch with claret and thyme
2. Butter-fried venison liver with baby onions and a dandelion and burdock reduction served with celeriac mash
3. Venison loin with red cabbage and chocolate
The session started with the group pairing up and each pair was given a Muntjac deer (Muntjac is smaller and much sweeter than Roe, and it's very lean – rarely any fat at all) to prepare and take off various cuts of meat. Robert shot the four deer himself three days ago, and explained the importance of knowing your source - if you're going to eat meat, be aware of it provenance, and, even better, cook it from scratch yourself and avoid pre-prepared food and ready meals (just look at the horse meat scandal!). Robert talked about how sustainable game is as he demonstrated some butchery skills for the various cuts of meat, then it was over to the participants - everyone was going to have a very real and hands-on experience! The silence that descended on the room meant that you could hear a pin drop, such was the concentration - the level of involvement was fantastic to see. The back strap of sirloin (venison loin) was removed with a sharp knife and prepared so that the meat didn’t shrink in the pan. As the pairs worked on this, Robert shared some tales of his shooting experiences and life in the kitchen - this friendly-chit chat throughout the session made it relaxed and fun, and a proper treat.
It was time to prepare the slow-braised venison haunch with claret and thyme. Large pieces of diced venison haunch were fried in oil, then removed from the pan. Chopped onion, swede and carrot were added, with juniper berries, a measure of flour followed by the braised venison. Now time for the claret and venison stock, and the dish was left to gently cook for a couple of hours, then redcurrant jelly was added at the end with seasoning.
Next it was butter-fried venison liver with baby onions and a dandelion and burdock reduction served with celeriac mash. The liver was a magnificent colour, so shiny, but after its very thin membrane was removed, it was a rather duller shade. The liver was sliced then the celeriac was diced and heated in milk, with a fresh bay leaf, then drained and mashed. The baby onions were heated in a pan and cooked rapidly till golden brown then the liver was pan fried adding butter and the dandelion and burdock reduction. Once cooked, it was presented on a circular bed of celeriac mash – fit for a restaurant!
The third dish of the morning was venison loin with red cabbage and chocolate. To save time, Robert had brought along a fondant potato for everyone (a disc of potato baked in the oven in butter, thyme, garlic and chicken stock). The red cabbage (in vinegar) was heated in a small pan while the venison loin was cooking gently in the oven next to the potato. Dark chocolate and butter were added to the cabbage pan and left to melt off the heat. Once each bit was ready, cabbage was piled on top of the potato and the venison, still pink in the middle, was sliced and displayed on top - a pure delight to the eye, as you can see from the photograph.
This was such a thrilling morning and a rare opportunity to prepare fresh sustainable meat with the chef who actually shot the animal locally a few days previously. To create such beautiful and stunning dishes to restaurant standard in a sociable friendly environment and then sit down as a group and eat the results of our hard work was amazing. A pure delight for all, and such a buzz throughout the whole session.
This session will be running again at
for Boys on Monday 25 February, 6-9pm, and you still have chance to sign up. To book please contact Andrea Lacon on 0161 928 0858 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a look at the Cracking Good Food website
for more details www.crackinggoodfood.org. You won’t be disappointed! Altrincham Grammar School
There are more photos from this event on our Facebook page.