A little while back I had some interesting chocolate sent to me by a company called Doisy and Dam. The flavours in the range are truly unique in the sense that each bar contains a superfood, meaning that the chocolate is a lot better for you than most. I began to think of ways in which I could use them in a recipe.
I had sample bars of 25g each so in many ways that limited what I had to play with. I came across venison steaks in one of my local supermarkets and cast my mind back to a recipe by Pierre Koffmann. In the superb book ‘Classic Koffmann’ there’s a recipe that pairs venison with a chocolate sauce, an intriguing combination if ever there was one.
This, however, is not Koffmann’s recipe. Merely an inspired version of it. A simple arrangement of venison steaks with shredded savoy cabbage, bacon and the sauce. It’s easy to do and can be done in under 30 minutes, perfect for the late autumn/early winter.
An unusual ingredient listed below is a demi glace. This is an old school ingredient from French kitchens used to intensify sauces. Making it from scratch can be a real effort but luckily Waitrose sell good quality packs of ready-made demi glace to make life a lot easier.
Also, don’t worry if you haven’t got an ovenproof frying pan – simply transfer the venison steaks, thyme and garlic to a baking tray.
2 Venison Shoulder or Loin Steaks
1 Savoy Cabbage, outer leaves and tough stalks removed
200g Bacon Lardons, unsmoked
1 Sprig of Thyme
2 Garlic Cloves, lightly crushed
25g Unsalted Butter
4 Small Shallots (or two large), peeled and sliced
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and finely chopped
125ml Red Wine, such as Merlot
200ml Demi Glace
1 Sprig of Thyme
25g 74% Doisy and Dam Dark Chocolate
10g Unsalted Butter
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- For the sauce, add a small amount of olive oil into a saucepan and heat over a medium high heat. Add in the shallots, thyme and garlic, frying to soften for around 5 minutes. Add in the the wine and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the wine by half until slightly thickened and then add the demi glace. Repeat the same process until you have a glossy sauce consistency. Pass the sauce through a sieve into a clean pan and keep warm.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Season the venison steaks and lay them gently into the pan. Sear on all sides for around 3 minutes until browned.
- Add in the thyme, garlic and butter. Baste the steaks with the melted butter and venison juices before placing in the oven for 6 minutes.
- Allow the venison to rest in a warm place while you prepare the cabbage and finish the sauce. Shred the savoy cabbage and heat a frying pan over a high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add the bacon lardons into the pan and fry until browned. Add in the cabbage and continue to fry until slightly wilted.
- To finish the sauce, break up the bar of chocolate and heat the sauce to just below simmering point. Whisk in the chocolate followed by the butter for a rich, shiny finish. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve the venison on a large mound of cabbage and bacon with the sauce drizzled over the top.
This recipe really impressed me. The venison has a subtle flavour yet strong enough to handle a robust sauce such as this. The chocolate had hints of vanilla which made for a rich, complex sauce – perfect with the slightly gamey venison.
Ultimately, the dish is easy to put together and perfect for this time of year. I really hope you enjoy making it and seek out more of Doisy and Dam’s superb chocolate products.