When it comes to innovative cuisine, Mark Best knows his stuff. Chef and owner of Marque, one of the world’s most imaginative restaurants, his dishes constantly challenge and delight tastebuds across the world.
Here, he shares a recipe for a dreamy venison tenderloin with beetroot and cocoa, and peanut and vanilla crumble
“Venison, chocolate and beetroot have been combined in one form or another at Marque for many years. In fact, I don’t think that I have done anything else with venison.
Our venison is farmed by a giant (but gentle) bear of a man, Tim Hansen, in Orange, which is on the other side of the Blue Mountains from Sydney.”
1 Trim 1.5 kilograms venison tenderloin and portion into 150 gram pieces.
2 To make the smoked beetroot ribbons, peel 5 medium beetroots with a deep colour.
3 Using a Japanese vegetable sheet slicer, cut the beetroots into long continuous ribbons. Square off the ends and cut into 30 centimetre ribbons. You need two ribbons per portion. Lay the ribbons on a perforated tray or a wire rack.
4 Put the tray or rack into a cold oven. Heat a heavy-based pan over a high heat and add 200 grams hickory chips.
5 When the smoking chips catch alight, wait until they are burning evenly then snuff out the flames by inverting a second pan over the first.
6 Transfer the pan of hickory chips to the oven, quickly close the door and smoke the beetroot for 5 minutes or as long as the chips are smoking. Be careful with the heat – the ribbons should still be raw after smoking them. Stack them up, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.
7 To make the beetroot espuma, peel and juice 1 kilogram medium beetroots. Strain the juice and bring 500 millilitres of the juice to the boil.
8 Add 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum and 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and combine with a wand blender off the heat. Once the juice is combined and cooled slightly, add 100 grams egg whites and blend.
9 Season to taste with Murray River pink salt.
10 Strain again and pour into a thermo cream gun. Charge with two nitrogen canisters, shaking vigorously after each charge. Keep warm until serving.
11 To make the blackcurrant gel, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Put 1 kilogram frozen blackcurrants and 100 millilitres water in a heatproof bowl and double-wrap it in plastic wrap.
12 Put the bowl on top of the pan and let the steam build up to gently heat the berries. Let them steam for at least 1 hour – the berries will collapse and the juice will seep into the bowl.
13 Strain the juice through a chinoise and gently press the berries to extract all their juice. Discard the solids.
14 Season the juice to taste with caster sugar. Measure the juice and add 1 per cent Kappa (Texturas) to the juice. Bring it to the boil and whisk through thoroughly. Pour into a wide container and let it cool down completely, first at room temperature and then in the refrigerator until it sets into a firm gel.
15 Scoop the gel into a high-speed blender and purée until smooth. Pass through a drum sieve and reserve until required.
16 To make the crumble, place 1 vanilla pod on a dehydrator tray and dry in a food dehydrator at 60°C for 8 to 10 hours, or until crisp. Transfer to a spice grinder and blend until pulverised to a fine powder.
17 Toast 100 grams peanuts and 100 grams cocoa nibs. Blitz in a Robot-coup until you achieve a coarse crumb. Add the powdered vanilla and mix well. Store in an airtight container until required.
18 Bring the meat to room temperature at least 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the meat with Murray River pink salt and freshly ground black pepper and then lightly roll it in 100 per cent cocoa powder until evenly coated.
19 Briefly sear the venison on all sides in canola oil over a medium to high heat, then flash the meat for 5 to 7 minutes in the oven. Venison is a very lean meat and is without a doubt best served rare to medium–rare. Let the meat rest while cooking the garnish.
20 Heat a large frying pan over a high heat, add a splash of canola oil and briefly sauté the beetroot ribbons.
21 Add a knob of butter and a splash of sherry vinegar to the pan, then season to taste with Murray River pink salt and freshly ground black pepper. The ribbons are nicest if served al dente, and they fold prettier as well.
22 To serve, cut a good tranche of venison for each person. Put in the centre of each plate. Discharge the espuma into a container and add a good spoonful to each plate.
23 Twist the beetroot ribbons into a pleasing form, sprinkle over some of the crumble and add a few lightly dressed inner leaves of young beetroot. Add a neat blob of blackcurrant gel to finish.
Recipe courtesy of Mark Best, extracted from Marque.