Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course
This dish meets all the expectations of a hearty and comforting meal and it will easily help you to put a hard day’s work well behind you. As venison is very lean it can be fairly dry, therefore wrapping the meatballs in smoked streaky bacon will not only add extra flavour, but it will also keep the meat inside moist and juicy.
Ingredients & Method
For the red onion gravy
- 50g unsalted butter, plus
- 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
- 2 large red onions, finely sliced
- 125g redcurrant jelly
- 200ml red wine
- 500ml chicken stock
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the venison meatballs
- 2 slices white bread, crusts removed and bread torn into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 450g minced venison
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as thyme, oregano and parsley
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon or 8 slices smoked pancetta
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
For the parsnip and kale mash
- 500g parsnips (peeled weight), finely sliced
- 100g kale, stalks removed
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50ml double cream
First, make the red onion gravy. Melt the 50g butter in a saucepan and once the butter starts to foam, add the onions and salt and pepper and sauté over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden brown. Add the redcurrant jelly and cook for a few minutes or until it has dissolved and becomes liquid.
Pour the wine into the pan and let it bubble, stirring and scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until it reduces, becomes syrupy and coats the onions.
Add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and simmer for 15–20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Just before you are ready to serve, whisk in the remaining cold butter to give your gravy a lovely gloss.
Meanwhile, make the venison meatballs. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and set aside. Put the bread in a shallow dish, pour over the milk and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.
Put the minced venison, soaked bread and milk, chopped herbs, egg, ground coriander, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and shape each portion into a ball. Wrap 1 rasher of bacon around each ball, then reshape the meatballs a little to make them slightly oblong so that they cook evenly.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, add the meatballs and cook over a high heat for 8–10 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking tray and roast them in the oven for about 12 minutes or until fully cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the meatballs rest, uncovered, for 4 minutes before serving.
In the meantime, make the parsnip and kale mash. Cook the parsnips in a pan of boiling salted water for 8–10 minutes or until tender. While the parsnips are cooking, blanch the kale in a separate large pan of boiling salted water for about 1 minute or until tender, then drain well.
Drain the parsnips and push them through a potato ricer or mash them well with a potato masher, then stir in the butter, cream and blanched kale. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Keep the mash warm until you are ready to serve.
To serve, place a heaped spoonful of the parsnip and kale mash on to each serving plate and place the meatballs (2 per serving) on top. Spoon over a generous amount of the red onion gravy and serve immediately. I serve this dish in bowl plates so that I can serve a generous helping of sauce for each portion.