Venison Haunch Steaks with Spelt, Leeks and Red Wine Sauce
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course
If you are a steak lover, then you should find this recipe both interesting and appealing. Cooking venison can be slightly daunting and the risk that you may end up with a dry and stringy piece of meat is more likely than with beefsteak. The secret when cooking venison steak is to ensure that this lean meat retains its succulence and tenderness. My main recommendation is that if you like meat well done, then it would be best to avoid this cut of venison. I cook these 150g steaks for 2 minutes on each side, but the most important part is the resting time afterwards – the resting time should be equal to the total cooking time. As it rests, the meat relaxes and the unwanted red protein juices will drain away (do not be fooled, you might think this is blood, but it’s not). The well-rested haunch steaks will be tender and succulent.
Venison haunch steaks go incredibly well with the earthiness of wholegrain spelt. This dish is finished off with a deep red wine sauce and a few carrot crisps (these are optional – well, there needs to be a slight compromise on the classic ‘steak and chips’). Make the carrot crisps a day in advance as they will keep well in an airtight container, then prepare the red wine sauce as this is the most time-consuming part of the recipe. If you have some sauce leftover, cool, then freeze it for the next time (it will freeze for up to 3 months) – it will be perfect and saves on all the hard work.
Ingredients & Method
- 1 carrot
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, plus extra to fry the carrot crisps
- 200g wholegrain spelt
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 50g cold unsalted butter
- 2 leeks, washed and cut into 1cm slices
- 4 x 150g venison haunch steaks
- a sprig of fresh thyme, finely chopped
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the red wine sauce
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 leek, washed
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 raw beetroot, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 3 dried juniper berries, crushed
- 3 cloves
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 70g redcurrant jelly
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
- 500ml red wine
- 700ml beef or chicken stock
First, make the carrot crisps. Peel the carrot, then use a vegetable peeler to create long carrot ribbons. Heat some sunflower oil in an electric deep-fat fryer or in a deep frying pan to a temperature of 160°C (or until a small piece of bread browns within 20 seconds in the hot oil). Deep-fry the carrot ribbons in the hot oil (do this in batches, a few at a time) for a few minutes until they are golden brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove and drain the crisps on kitchen paper, then immediately season them with salt and leave to cool. These can be made a day in advance – simply store in an airtight container overnight.
Next, make the red wine sauce. Cut all the vegetables into 2cm pieces and just crush the garlic with the heel of your hand. Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan and sauté all the vegetables, the garlic, coriander seeds, juniper berries and cloves over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Do not let the vegetables burn – the idea is to caramelise them and bring out their natural sweetness.
Add the tomato purée and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent the purée from burning. Do not be tempted to add extra oil as it will make the sauce greasy. Add the redcurrant jelly, bay leaves and rosemary and thyme sprigs, then pour in the wine and let it bubble, stirring and scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Turn the heat up and cook until the wine has reduced by half.
Add the stock and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer – do not boil the sauce too fast (otherwise it will become cloudy) and do not cover the pan either. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, removing any impurities from the surface using a small ladle. Remove from the heat and pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Bubble the sauce over a medium heat until it has reduced to a coating consistency. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
Meanwhile, soak the spelt in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and drain. Put the drained spelt into a saucepan and add 3 times the volume of water to spelt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until the spelt is tender. Add the salt right at the end of the cooking time, then drain using a colander, set aside and keep hot. (Adding the salt at the end of the cooking time for grains and pulses prevents them from becoming tough on the outside and chewy.)
For the sautéed leeks, melt half of the butter in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the leeks for 5–6 minutes or until golden all over. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and keep warm until needed.
To cook the venison steaks, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper, then place the steaks into the hot pan and do not move them for 2 minutes. After about 1 minute, place three fingernail-sized knobs of the remaining cold butter into the pan. After the 2 minutes cooking time, turn the steaks over and cook them on the other side for another 2 minutes, again adding 3 more small knobs of cold butter halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the steaks to a plate lined with kitchen paper and leave to rest, uncovered, for 4 minutes.
While the steaks are resting, reheat the red wine sauce in a saucepan until it is gently simmering, then add the hot, cooked spelt and chopped thyme. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
To serve, spoon the spelt and red wine sauce and the sautéed leeks on to serving plates. Carve the venison steaks into 1cm-thick slices and serve on top of the spelt and leeks. Garnish with the carrot crisps and serve immediately.