A beautifully rich dish from Bryan McCarthy of Greenes in Cork.
"We love venison in Greenes. We sweet pickle cherries at the end of summer to use with the venison in early autumn. We love the combination of the earthy venison, sweet cherry, bitter chocolate and velvety smooth celeriac." – Bryan McCarthy
Yield: Serves: 4
For the venison
- 4x225g (8oz) venison haunch steaks, trimmed (ask your butcher to do for you)
- Rapeseed oil
- Salt and pepper
- 100ml/3fl oz red wine
- 100ml/ 3fl oz chicken stock, to deglaze
- 2 tablespoon 80% dark chocolate
For the cherries
- 150ml/5fl oz cider vinegar
- 100ml/3fl oz water
- 50g/2oz sugar
- 1 shot kirsch
- Cherry bitters, optional
- 20 destoned cherries
For the salt dough
- 225g/8oz plain flour
- 75g salt
- 1 egg
For the celeriac
- 1 head celeriac
- 100g/4oz butter
- 50ml/2fl oz milk
- 50ml/2fl oz cream
- Salt and pepper
- For the cherries, warm the vinegar and water over medium heat and add the sugar, kirsch and bitters. When the sugar has dissolved, add the cherries and decant into a Kilner jar. They are good to use after 24 hours but better after a few weeks.
- To make the salt pastry, mix all ingredients together with just enough water to form a dough. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- For the celeriac, peel the skin and retain them. Wash them well and grate. Put into a low oven at 90ºC with a little salt. When dry, cool and blend to a fine powder.
- Cut the celeriac in half. Cut one half into small chunks and sauté in the butter over a medium heat for five minutes, turning occasionally. Add the milk and cream and cook on a low heat till tender. Transfer to a blender and blend to a smooth purée, seasoning to taste with salt and white pepper. Keep warm until serving.
- Divide the salt pastry in four and roll out. Cut the remaining half celeriac into four chunks and wrap in the pastry and bake at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 25 minutes. Allow to rest until you are ready to serve.
- For the venison, season the steaks with salt and pepper. Sear the venison steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side over a high heat in rapeseed oil. Then place the pan in a preheated oven at 200°C/gas mark 6 for one minute for medium-rare (which is recommended). Remove from the oven and pan and allow to rest on a warm plate for five minutes.
- Drain off any oil or fat from the frying pan and return the pan to the hob. Add the red wine. Deglaze the pan over a medium heat and reduce the wine by two thirds. Add the stock and continue to cook until reduced by half and the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Season if necessary and add the cherries, cut in half at the end.
- To plate, put a spoon of celeriac purée off centre on the plate. Carve each piece of venison into two or three slices and place to the left of plate. Spoon over some cherries and sauce. Remove the salt-baked celeriac from the pastry and put next to the venison and sprinkle with the celeriac skin salt and grate some bitter chocolate on top.
Tip: The sweet pickled cherries can be prepared a few days or weeks in advance and the salt pastry is best made the day before.