My friend Jimmy went hunting again recently, and very kindly donated me a venison back steak. I cooked it last Saturday night, and it was enjoyed by me, my flatmate and a friend who has recently returned from overseas. We had it with a couple of bottles of red and it sure was tasty.
Venison backsteak on roasted potato discs, with lyonnaise onions and red wine mushrooms
I started off by putting the backsteak in a bowl with a couple of sprigs of rosemary and some cheap red wine. After a couple of hours, I started on the spuds. I decided to do roasted discs of agria potato - I preheated the oven, and the oven tray of olive oil, to about 200*C then added 1cm slices of potato, sprinkled with plenty of flaky sea salt, ensuring to cover them in oil once in the tray. When the potatoes were in the oven, glass of cheeky red in hand, I got amongst the onions.
I currently have on loan from a friend Stephane Reynaud's beautiful book Rippailles. Having read it and re-read it over and over, poring over each page and positively frothing with inspiration, I went with french style onions. The version I ended up with I believe were lyonnaise onions having consulted both Renaud and Damien Pignolet. Basically they are onions fried on a medium heat, in olive oil, to which I added some white wine vinegar, some salt, and a splash of white wine. Cooking them off for about 25-30 minutes meant they were soft, sweet and delicious.
In a frying pan on a high heat, I seared the venison and had the mushrooms and some red wine nestled up in the pan too. Using tongs, once I'd seared it on all sides, I cleared some space in the potato tray, and put the venison in the oven. I continued adding red wine to the frying pan to glaze the mushrooms, with a little rosemary. Making this again I'd add plenty of stock to make a larger quantity of jus - the boys on the receiving end of this meal noting a slight lack of jus their only qualm.
The venison was in the oven for between 20 and 25 minutes. I gave it a good squeeze to ensure it wasn't still squidgy and raw in the middle, and kept a close eye on it too, ensuring it didn't dry out. Once done I rested it for about 8-10 minutes. I sliced into it, and was reminded of my many days waitressing, watching the chefs do the same thing with a look of satisfaction at the juicy, pink, moist, perfectly cooked piece of meat. I would eagerly watch as I waited patiently to take the dish to the table - in those days served with mushroom risotto and truffle oil.
Back to last Saturday night, and I stacked the crispy-outside-soft-inside potato discs, spooning over some of the onions. I then carefully placed a couple of slices of the medium-rare venison fanned out on top, and mushrooms round the side with a smearing of what become a rather thick jus-type-reduction. I didn't manage a photo before we dug in, and although I usually sit down to a meal and give a disclaimer of whatever I consider I did wrong in its preparation, I have to say this was probably one of the nicest meals I've ever made. Fresh local produce helped - thanks Jimmy! It goes to show what great ingredients, a bit of time and patience, and a lovely glass of red wine firmly in hand can do. Delicious.