Fillet of Venison on Sweet Potato Gratin, Brussels Sprouts, Red Wine Shallots, and Juniper Berry Foam
This recipe I created as part of my Wild Christmas three course menu. As the main dish, what would fit this theme better than a venison fillet with its very mild deer flavor and soft meet? You can get very creative with accompanying side dishes. Here I tried to create the right balance of sweet, sour, and salty to bring out the full flavor of the various ingredients. The outcome is a colorful deliciousness that you should definitely give a try!
You need the following ingredients: (serves 4)
- 600 g / ~1.3 lbs venison fillet
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 bag brussels sprouts
- ghee or butter for frying
Note: I always try to buy organic ingredients, ideally seasonal and local. In this recipe, I used most of the ingredients from Delhaize Luxembourg. They offer a variety of organic and local ingredients.
For the Sweet Potato and Thyme Gratin: (serves 4)
- 3 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 1 cup / 240 ml full fat milk
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml cream
- butter flakes (~3 small ones per serving)
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Here you can find the recipe for my Sweet Potato and Thyme Gratin I served with this main dish.
For the Juniper Berry Foam: (the foam will serve about 8)
- 1 shallot
- 1 cup / 240 ml white wine
- 1 1/3 cups / 320 ml vegetable fond (homemade)
- 10 juniper berries
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- 1 1/3 oz / 4 cl cream
- 2/3 oz / 2 cl gin
- 1 tsp soy lecithin
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Peel the shallots and slice them thinly. Heat the butter or ghee in a small pot over medium heat, add the shallots and let them simmer until soft. Deglaze with white wine, then add the juniper berries and vegetable fond. Continue to cook until reduced to half, add the cream, gin, and soy lecithin, then season with salt and pepper. Pass through a fine sieve and keep warm. Just before serving, blend the sauce with a hand blender until foamy. Try to get as much air as possible into the liquid by holding the blender at a slight angle, that way it creates a nice foam. Soy lecithin is part of the molecular kitchen and helps maintain the texture of the juniper berry foam.
For the Red Wine Shallots: (serves 4)
- 250 g / 0.55 lb shallots
- 1 cup / 240 ml red wine
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- salt & pepper (to taste)
Peel the shallots, cut them in half, and slice them thinly lengthwise like in the picture above. Heat a small pot with butter or ghee, add the shallots and let them simmer. Caramelise them with the honey by stirring continuously. Pour in the red wine and let the wine reduce until only a little bit of fluid is left. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until serving.
Deseed the pomegranate by cutting off the top and then cut along the spaces separating the clusters of the pomegranate. After that you can easily tear it apart and get out the juicy seeds. Be careful when doing this step, it might splash and the stains are almost impossible to clean. Now clean the brussels sprouts. The best way to do this is to cut off the sprout stems at the end, then removing the leaves from the stem with a small knife and working in a circular motion around the sprout. Discard the outer dirty leaves and save the nice leaves. You need around 8 – 10 leaves per person. Heat a pot of salted water. Blanche the brussels sprouts in the salt water for about 30 seconds just before serving.
Once these steps are done and the Sweet Potato and Thyme Gratin is in the oven (should be almost ready), heat a pan with 1 tsp ghee on high heat. Cut the venison fillet into 4 equal pieces and fry the fillet on each side for about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In the meantime, remove the gratin from the oven, decrease the heat of the oven to 120 degrees. When the venison is done in the pan, put it into the oven and leave it there for about 10 minutes. While the fillet is in the oven, blanche the brussels sprouts for ~30 seconds and blend the juniper berry sauce with a hand blender until foamy. Try to get as much air as possible into the liquid by holding the blender at a slight angle, that way it creates a nice foam.
Serving: a plate heater, if you have one, would come in very handy. That way the food stays warm for a longer time. Add the gratin in the middle of the plate, then arrange the red wine shallots and brussels sprouts around it. Cut the venison fillet into 12 pieces and arrange 3 pieces per plate like in the picture. Pour a couple of spoons of the juniper berry foam around the fillet and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds over the plate. Serve immediately.