Nothing says autumn like venison. It’s a wild game meat that holds a special place on many restaurant menus throughout the fall hunting season. Prized for its fine flavor, venison is characterized by its subtle green aroma when raw. The Maillard reaction that occurs during the cooking process produces a complex spectrum of new scents, enabling us to pair this meat with seasonal ingredients such as apples, pumpkin and even gingerbread.
Venison: A seasonal pairing
But what do these ingredients have in common? Cooked venison contains a roasted-popcorn scent, together with the same vegetal-potato and vegetal-mushroom aroma notes that we find in apples and pumpkin. The rosemary-spiced apples in this dish also contain a citrusy-lemon fragrance, providing a direct aromatic link to the venison.
A classic techniques for binding sauces is to use bread. For our veal demi-glace, I used gingerbread instead, which shares roasted-malty notes with venison, and because it adds an extra dimension of sweet, spicy notes to our sauce. To finish, a creamy pumpkin purée rounds out this dish, together with lightly pickled pumpkin slices for tangy crunch. Pair it with a cold glass of Westmalle Dubbel Trappist Ale, and you’ve got yourself a perfect seasonal feast for fall!
Venison with gingerbread demi-glace, apples and pumpkin (4 servings)
- 4 Venison filets (recipe follows)
- Gingerbread demi-glace (recipe follows)
- Rosemary-spiced apples (recipe follows)
- Pickled pumpkin discs (recipe follows)
- 425 g of pumpkin purée
In a medium saucepan, heat the pumpkin purée and season with salt, to taste. Reserve and set aside.
Spoon the rosemary-spiced apples onto each plate. Arrange the venison filets over the cooked apples. Drizzle some of the pumpkin purée onto each plate. Garnish each plate with 3 pickled pumpkin discs. Serve immediately.
Optional pairing: Try pairing your venison with Westmalle Dubbel Trappist Ale.
- 4 x 120 g filets of venison
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/356ºF.
Meanwhile, allow the venison filets to come to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper just before cooking.
Melt the butter in a skillet over high heat. Sear the filets on both sides and transfer them to a 180ºC/356ºF oven to finish. Cook according to desired doneness.
Once finished, allow the filets to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- 250 g veal fonds
- 100 g red wine, for deglazing
- 100 g onion, diced
- ½ of an orange, zested and juiced
- 50 g gingerbread
- 3 tbsps unsalted butter
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and then the bay leaf, thyme and orange zest. Sauté the onions for a few minutes until translucent and golden.
Next, add the wine and orange juice to deglaze the pan, then lower the heat to a simmer and reduce. Add the veal fonds and the gingerbread. Simmer the mixture until desired thickness and then sieve. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Finish the demi-glace with a tablespoon of butter.
Rosemary-spiced apples (optional)
- 2 apples, peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- a pinch of fresh rosemary, minced
Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples and cook for a few minutes until almost tender, stirring constantly.
Once done, sprinkle the apples with minced rosemary and toss gently to coat evenly.
- 120 g water
- 60 g rice vinegar
- 35 g granulated sugar
- 6 g salt, to taste
- a raw pumpkin, for garnish
- a mandolin
- a small circular vegetable cutter
Using a mandolin, slice the raw pumpkin into thin sheets. Then, cut out 12 small discs using a vegetable cutter. Reserve and set aside.
Next, combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a nonreactive bowl, stirring to dissolve completely. Add the raw pumpkin disks and marinate for 15 to 30 minutes. Sieve and pat dry.