This recipe was served as the main course at my February Feast. It came out of wanting to provide something delicious and comforting for a winter feast but also to add some enticing aromatic spicing. I managed to persuade the supplier to give some venison fat to keep the moisture in without using bacon or similar, which would affect the flavour and, I felt, wouldn’t be authentic to the Middle Eastern accent of this dish.
Ingredients per portion.
Joint: 1 fallow venison shoulder on the bone (approximately 0.5 kg); 1 piece of scored and trimmed venison; 5 crushed dried juniper berries; ½ tsp each of ground allspice, sumac and toasted cumin and caraway; 1 slice unsalted butter
Roasting liquor: 2 tbsp cabernet sauvignon vinegar; 1 bay leaf; bunch of thyme; 1 stem rosemary; 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped; 1 small onion, roughly chopped; 1 green end of leek, roughly chopped; 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped; parsley stalks; 4 garlic cloves, whole
1 small leek, olive oil, pomegranate molasses
1 quantity mashed cooked butter beans, 1 clove garlic finely chopped, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp yoghurt, ground white pepper, sea salt
1 piece medlar paste (or quince paste)
Set oven to 220ºC.
Get a large roasting dish with a trivet and put in all the liquor ingredients. Place the trivet in the dish and top up the liquid with water so that the level is just under the bottom of the trivet.
Place a piece of string long enough to tie the joint onto the trivet then place the venison onto this. Season the top of the venison with the half the spices then place a slice of butter onto this to cover the joint. Cover with the venison fat then tie to hold the fat in place. Place in the oven. After 10 minutes turn the temperature down to 140ºC. Roast for 4 hours, basting every 45 minutes.
Take the meat out of the oven and set aside.
Strain the liquor through a sieve into a jug. Allow to separate then skim off the fat.
Place the liquid into a pan, boil vigorously and reduce to about two thirds. Pour back into a jug.
Separate the meat between the soft, tender braised parts and the crispy roasted outer parts. Set aside a small piece of each, roughly 2x2x1 cm of each.
Take a piece of foil about 20×20 cm and lie out flat on the work surface. Place the rest of the soft cooked venison on this and sprinkle over some more of the remaining spice mixture. Place a layer of the drier roasted meat on this, pour over a little of the liquor and sprinkle over more spice. Carefully fold the foil around the mat to form a parcel.
About 1 hour before serving, chop the green top off a leek and place the white part in the oven until it has burnt all over and is soft to squeeze.
Fifteen minutes before serving, place the venison parcel in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Reboil the liquor.
Soften some garlic in a small pan with olive oil, stir in the mashed butter beans and yoghurt and season with white pepper and salt.
Mix the venison meat you reserved with some more spice and some bone marrow and fry off until just crispy.
When the roast leek is cool enough to handle, peel away the burnt outer skin to reveal the soft, sweet inside. Place on a plate and dress with olive oil, pomegranate molasses and sea salt. Remove the meat from the parcel and place next to the leek, pour over some more liquor. Serve a portion of mashed butter beans with the pan crisped meat on top. Finally place a piece of medlar paste on to the plate and serve with a jug of the remaining liquor.