Taken from Join the Greener Revolution by Ollie Hunter (£14.99, Pavilion)
The breast of a venison is one of those parts that normally gets minced or ground because, to be honest, it does take a bit of cooking. But if you can master this simple recipe, it will turn out tender and delicious. This recipe is a take on the Italian peasant food porchetta, which is a rolled and stuffed pork shoulder or belly that has been slowly cooked for hours. It's then either served hot as a banquette centrepiece or sliced and served cold in ciabatta sandwiches.
Serves 4 as a main course (or makes lots of sandwiches)
- 2 venison breasts, bones removed (about 1 kg)
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
For the stuffing
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
- Bunch of fresh parsley, leaves and stalks separated, both finely chopped
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
- 2tsp fennel seeds
- Locally produced oil of your choice, for frying
- Sea salt
- 50g homemade dried breadcrumbs
- 50g soft locally grown dried fruit of your choice, pitted
For the mint sauce
- Large bunch of fresh mint, destalked and leaves very finely chopped
- 1 shallot, very finely chopped
- 100ml red wine vinegar, or locally produced vinegar
- 30g golden caster (granulated) sugar
To make the stuffing, put the chopped onion, garlic, parsley stalks, rosemary and the fennel seeds in a medium frying pan with a few glugs of oil and some salt. Place over a medium heat, stir and then cook for about six minutes until the onion is soft. Remove from the heat, add the breadcrumbs and dried fruit and stir together. Stir in a splash of water to bind the mixture together. Set aside.
Lay the venison breasts, skin-side down, on the work surface. Trim off the top and bottom bits of fat and reserve to one side. Season the meat well with sea salt, then spread your stuffing all over the meat. Going from short side to short side, roll the breast up very tightly with the stuffing encased inside. Tie four pieces of butcher's string widthwise around the meat joint at even intervals to hold it together, then tie one long piece of string around the length of it. (If any stuffing has slipped out, you can roast it for eight minutes in the hot oven alongside the meat.)
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C.
Place the peeled onion halves and venison fat trimmings on the bottom of a large ovenproof saucepan or casserole dish with a lid. Place the rolled venison breasts on top (so they don't directly touch the bottom of the pan) and season the skin with sea salt. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove and add 400ml of water, pop the lid on the pan, turn the oven down to 150°C fan/170°C and cook for a further 2-3 hours.
To check the venison is cooked through, there should be no resistance when a skewer is pushed in. Set aside and leave to rest and cool slightly. If serving as a roast, remove the meat and reduce the cooking juices to make a gravy.
For the mint sauce, put the chopped mint leaves, parsley leaves (from the stuffing ingredients) and shallot in a bowl. Add the vinegar and sugar and mix well to dissolve, adjusting sugar to taste.
Serve the venison cut into slices and drizzled with mint sauce alongside delicious vegetables or refrigerate the whole breast and enjoy it thinly sliced in sandwiches. It will keep in the fridge for up to five days.
Photo: Louise Hagger
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