Saddle of Venison in Juniper Cream Sauce au Gratin with Mushrooms, Served with Red Cabbage and Sliced Bread Dumplings
This entrée makes a big impression because the centerpiece is venison. Actually, the venison is the easiest and quickest part of the meal to cook. Farm-raised venison is recommended for its mild flavor and availability. Because venison is very lean, do not overcook. The Bread Dumpling is surprisingly simple--just mix and poach it. The braised cabbage is marinated overnight; the stock and seasoning mix may also be made ahead of time. Start a day ahead the these three items. You may substitute any kind of mushrooms for the exotic and expensive morels. The professional blowtorch--Chef Hicka calls it an indispensable kitchen tool--that he uses to gratinée the venison sauce comes in a small, propane-fueled version for the home cook available at gourmet cookware stores. If making your own venison stock seems too labor-intensive, you may use condensed, frozen stock bases available at a quality meat market, and reconstitute them as needed, according to package directions. Low-sodium stock bases are preferred. Another alternative is canned, low-salt beef stock, or 1/2 undiluted beef consommé plus 1/2 dry red wine. A note about semolina: This is the ground endosperm of hard durum wheat. You can find it in Italian markets as semolina and Middle Eastern markets as couscous.
- Red Cabbage
- Red Cabbage - 1 small (about 1-1/2 pounds), outer leaves trimmed, cored, shredded
- Granny Smith or other tart apple - 2, peeled, cored, chopped
- Valencia oranges - juice of 4 Valencia oranges, or 1 cup
- Juice of one lemon
- Sugar - 1/2 cup, divided
- Dry Red Wine - 1 cup
- Apple Juice - 1 cup
- Cider Vinegar - 1/4 cup
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Caraway seeds - 1 teaspoon, divided
- Butter - 4 tablespoons
- Sugar - 4 tablespoons
- Onion - 1 medium, peeled and diced
- Salt - to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Bread Dumpling (makes eight 2-inch thick dumplin)
- Milk - 2 cups
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- White Pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- Freshly grated nutmeg or to taste - 1/2
- Semolina - 1/4 cup
- Flour - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 6 tablespoons
- Egg Yolks - 2
- White Bread - 3 cups (approximately) toasted cubed
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- White Button Mushrooms - 1/2 pound, trimmed, cleaned, sliced
- Morel Mushrooms - 1/2 pound, trimmed, cleaned, sliced or 1 pound white or other mushrooms of your choice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Hollandaise Sauce
- Egg Yolks - 2
- Dry white wine - 2 tablespoons
- Fresh lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cayenne
- Warm Clarified Butter - 1 cup
- Warm water as necessary
- Venison Saddle Fillets
- Boneless Venison Saddle fillets - 4, 5 to 6 ounces each
- Game Seasoning (recipe below)
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Canola oil - 2 tablespoons
- Venison Stock (recipe below) - 2 cups
- Granny Smith or tart apple - 1 large, peeled, cored, coarsely grated
- Unsalted butter, salt and sugar, as needed
- Parsley Sprigs - 4, chopped
- Cranberries - 1 cup, cooked (optional)
- Venison Stock (Makes 8 cups)
- Venison Bones - 3 pounds, trimmings, meat scraps
- Water - 4 quarts (16 cups)
- Onion - 1, peeled, halved
- Carrot - 1, peeled, halved
- Celery Stalks - 2, including leaves, cut into sections
- Fresh thyme sprigs - 3, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Fresh parsley sprigs - 3
- Black peppercorns - 6
- Juniper berries - 6
- Game Seasoning (Makes approximately 1/2 cup)
- Peppercorns - 3 tablespoons
- Juniper berries - 3 tablespoons
- Salt - 2 teaspoons
- Dried Thyme - 2 teaspoons
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Generous pinch dried rosemary
To make the cabbage: Place cabbage and chopped apples in large non-aluminum bowl. Add orange and lemon juices, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the caraway seeds. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring once or twice to distribute marinade.
To finish, in a non-aluminum 4-quart sauce pan, add the butter and sugar and caramelize, tilting pan to prevent burning. Add onions and cook to caramelize, stirring. Do not allow onions to burn. Add red wine to deglaze and then apple juice. Add marinated cabbage-apple mixture, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds. Simmer, covered, over low to medium heat, stirring from bottom occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 1 hour. Add water, if necessary, to prevent cabbage from burning. Or, if too much liquid is left at the end of cooking, uncover and cook to reduce liquid.
To make the dumplings: Place milk in a 2-1/2 quart saucepan, and bring to a boil slowly over medium heat. Do not scorch milk. Reduce heat and whisk in semolina, whisking to cook until thickened. Add flour and whisk to cook until thickened to a paste. Remove from heat. With a large spoon stir in butter until melted. Add egg yolks and stir to mix completely. Add bread cubes, folding into batter to coat bread completely, forming a thick mixture.
Place dough in center of a damp, clean, lint-free cloth towel. Flatten dough, then, using the edges of the towel to shape, shape and roll into a cylinder about 2-1/2 to 3-inches in diameter and 16 inches long. Roll towel over cylinder and tie at both ends and in the center with kitchen twine. Place dumpling roll in a shallow pan filled with boiling lightly salted water and cook gently, turning once for 30 minutes.
When dumpling is cooked through, remove from water, place on a cutting board, unwrap carefully (dumpling will be hot). Trim off uneven ends and slice dumpling into 8 equal slices.
To prepare the Hollandaise: In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk the egg yolks, wine, lemon juice, salt and cayenne until thick, about 5 to 6 minutes, being careful not to overcook the egg yolks. Add the warm butter in a thin stream, continually whisking until all the butter has been incorporated. If the sauce is too thick, add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Adjust seasoning. Keep warm in a thermos until ready to serve.
To prepare the mushrooms: In small saucepan place butter and heat over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and salt and pepper, and cook until mushrooms release their liquid and most of the liquid evaporates. Add the cream and continue to cook until reduced by half. Set aside; keep warm.
To prepare the fillets: Sprinkle venison fillets generously with game seasoning on both sides. In skillet, heat butter and canola oil over medium-high heat until foaming. Sear fillets in butter briefly, turning once. Add more butter and oil in equal parts if necessary. Place fillets in venison stock which has been brought to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove venison fillets from stock; bring stock back to a boil to reduce to desired consistency.
To prepare the apple garnish: Heat butter as needed in small skillet. Add grated apple, season to taste with salt and sugar, and cook through. Set aside; keep warm.
To serve: Cut each fillet in half on the diagonal. Inside should be rosy, not cooked through. Place one cut fillet, cut halves showing, on each of four heated plates at 3 o'clock. Place one or two slices of bread dumpling at 7 o'clock. Mound cabbage at 10 o'clock. Top dumplings with fresh chopped parsley. Top cabbage with a spoonful or two of sautéed grated apple. Top each venison fillet with one-fourth of the mushrooms. Top mushrooms with 2 to 3 tablespoons of Hollandaise sauce. Brown (gratinée) Hollandaise with hand torch. Strain venison stock and drizzle around venison fillet. Serve immediately. If desired, serve cooked cranberries as a side dish.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Put the venison bones, trimming and scraps in a shallow roasting pan, and roast for 30 minutes, or until browned.
In a 6-quart stock pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add browned venison trimmings and reduce heat to medium. When the water comes back to a boil, skim frequently until the scum stops rising. Then add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or until reduced by half. Add additional water if the stock level falls below the level of the ingredients.
Strain the stock and discard the solids. Cool stock by placing stock pot in a bowl of cold running water and stirring. Cover and refrigerate. Remove and discard the layer of congealed fat from the top. Stock is now ready to use. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Grind all ingredients in spice grinder or pulverize in mortar and pestle. Store in a glass jar with a lid, or zippered plastic bag. The seasoning will not spoil, but it was slowly lose its flavor punch.