“Come, we have a hot Venison pasty to dinner”
William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor
This venison Wellington is part of a Valentine’s day dinner for two – along with prawn and fennel cups and saucers and blood orange sorbet. Why ‘Wellington’? Well, it’s a venison adaptation of the well-known dish Beef Wellington – beef wrapped in pastry lined with goodies of one kind or another, in this case armagnac-soaked prunes with shallots.
Naturally the universal assumption is that the original beef version was named after the famed Duke of Wellington, he of the gumboot fame. However, according to Clarissa Dickson Wright,
“This dish has nothing to do with that splendid hero, the Duke of Wellington; it was invented for a civic reception in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a splendid addition to any party.”
At any rate the sharpness of the mustard in this venison Wellington goes particularly well with whatever sweet jelly you choose to serve with it – I found some pomegranate jelly last time I visited my local farmshop, Newlyns, but cranberry jelly would also be good. The use of the cranberries in the sweetheart cabbage brings the whole dish ‘together’.
Recipe for Venison Wellington with sweet jelly and cabbage with cranberries
- 1 venison fillet steak – 180-200g/6-8 oz
- 4 banana shallots, chopped really small
- 4 teasp smoked salt
- Indonesian long pepper
- 4 knobs (40g, about a fifth of a packet) of butter
- 2 tbsp Armagnac
- 1 Earl Grey tea bag
- 4 pitted, dried prunes
- 2 tbsp grainy mustard
- ½ teasp soft brown sugar
- 320g pack ready rolled puff pastry (butter if possible, Jus Rol do one now, or, if you can find Dorset Pastry puff pastry that is the Rolls Royce of pastries)
- ½ a sweetheart cabbage, shredded
- 1 leek
- 50g dried cranberries
- cranberry, redcurrent, or pomegranate jelly to serve
- heat the oven to 210°C (aga top right), put plates in to warm and boil a kettle
- make a mug of Earl Grey tea in a big mug, only filling half the mug
- chop the prunes, and add to the tea.
- get a non-stick frying pan really hot, season the steak VERY generously with the salt and pepper, and brown it on each side. take out, cut it in half and set aside
- then cook half the shallots with half the butter, ½ teasp soft brown sugar, and 2 teasp smoked salt until caramelised – about 15 minutes
- add the Armagnac, cook another five minutes
- drain the prunes, squeezing out the liquid and add to the shallot mixture
- put in freezer to cool quickly
- cut the pastry into four pieces, all larger than the steak, two a bit larger than the other two.
- cover a baking tray with baking paper (or bake-o-glide)
- slather the steaks with the mustard and place in the middle of the smaller pieces of pastry
- brush the edges of the pastry with the milk, and put the shallot mixture on top of the meat
- cover with the other two pastry squares, brushing the whole with more milk and piercing with a knife. You can even go a bit over the top and shape the parcels into hearts!
- push the edges of the pastry together with a fork to make it look professional.
- put into the (aga roasting) oven in a roasting tin for 12 minutes for rare steak
- remove the venison, cover with foil and leave to rest
- add 1 tbsp Armagnac to the roasting tin, whisk in a knob of butter (use cappuccino whisk) – this makes the gravy glossy. If it doesn’t look enough add a little beef stock made from a cube. Add some herbes de provence.
- using the same frying pan that you used for the onion mixture, fry the shredded cabbage in the rest of the butter for a bit longer than five minutes with the rest of the shallots, the very thinly sliced leek and the cranberries.
- serve the Wellingtons with the cabbage
© 2014 Saucy Dressings
Cavatina from The Deer Hunter