More sous-vide action for you lovely lot to read about. This time I went for a Burn’s Night inspired feast of Venison Shoulder with Savoy Cabbage, Bacon, Butternut Squash Puree and finished with a Port Sauce. Of course not all of this was going in the water bath – just the venison.
I set the bath to 56C. My way of thinking was to treat the venison just like you would a regular beef steak. Cooking the venison at 56C for an hour should, in theory, result in tender pink meat but with that steak texture. Sounds good, right?
This is a bit of a fiddly dish to put together if you’re in a rush after a hard day at work, for instance. You could of course omit the puree and just serve the venison along with the cabbage and bacon and buy a ready made gravy – the choice is yours entirely. If you do feel the urge to juggle a few elements, here’s how to do it.
With the venison seasoned and bagged up just place the steaks into the water bath at 56C (132F) and leave them to cook for one hour. While the venison cooks – peel and dice a butternut squash, discarding the seeds. Place the squash into a pan with 100ml chicken stock and 25g of butter and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cover the squash directly with foil and cook until soft, around 15-20 minutes should be fine.
Once the squash has softened, remove the foil and place the contents of the pan into a blender. Blitz to a smooth puree, adding a little more chicken stock if the mixture looks a bit thick. Pour into a pan and keep warm over a low heat.
For the reduction. Add 25g of butter to a pan set over a medium heat and add a peeled, chopped shallot. Fry until the shallot has softened and pour in 100ml of port. Reduce over a high heat until the port has reduced to a couple of tablespoons then pour in 250ml chicken stock along with a handful of blackberries. Reduce again until you have a sauce consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Keep this warm on the side.
Finally it’s the cabbage – take the outer leaves away from a large savoy cabbage and discard. Shred the cabbage, discarding any tough core pieces. In a large non-stick frying pan add around 150g of diced pancetta over a medium heat. When the fat has rendered out of the pancetta add the shredded cabbage to the pan. Fry until the cabbage just begins to wilt slightly, season well and add a touch of olive oil or butter if the cabbage begins to burn.
Prepare a non-stick pan over a red hot heat (seriously – as hot as you can get it!) and remove the venison from the water bath. Open the bag and pour any juices into the port sauce to intensify the flavour. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add the venison – turn the venison every 5-10 seconds to achieve an incredible sear. Remove once browned on all sides.
Now it’s time to make it all pretty. Place a good mound of cabbage and pancetta in the centre of the plate, do your best to place a ‘cheffy’ swipe of the butternut squash puree alongside. Slice the venison shoulder in half and marvel at the beautiful pink, juicy meat staring back at you. Drizzle over the port sauce and get stuck in!
I can’t tell you how good this venison is – it turns the shoulder into almost fillet. The flavour is locked in through sealing it under pressure and the temperature ensures a consistent result throughout. The accompaniments are just perfect – the cabbage and bacon add crunch and saltiness, the puree gives a smooth texture and slight richness with the sauce bringing a fruity note. All in all an absolute cracker.