This lean venison dish is perfect for a lighter winter bite with a Nordic twist
Traditionally, venison is served as a smoked cold cut, cooked rare, stewed (popular in Norway) or else it is prepared as by the Sami culture from northern Sweden, where it is shaved and heavily salted, resembling kebab meat.
It has a gamey quality that can be likened to other lean wild meats like kangaroo and horse, and it pairs well with sweeter elements in dishes – in Sweden it is almost always served with lingonberry jam. Using this as inspiration, in this recipe it’s been paired with grilled plums.
• 50g raw almonds
• 200g wheatberry
• 1 celery heart, leaves and all
• 2 dried juniper berries
• 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
• 800g venison fillet
• 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
• 4 red plums, halved and pitted
• 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
• pinch white pepper
• 1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 Put the almonds in a bowl and cover with water so that they are fully submerged.
2 Meanwhile, boil 250 ml salted water in a saucepan, then add the wheatberry. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes, until the grains have absorbed all the water. Set aside, with the lid still on.
3 Using a mandoline if you have one, thinly slice the inner stalks of the celery lengthways into a bowl of cold water. Reserve any leaves and the outer stalks for the sauce. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4 Using a mortar and pestle grind the juniper berries with the salt and use the mixture to season the venison on all sides.
5 Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan over a high heat and fry the venison for 30 seconds on each side to seal the meat.
6 Transfer to the oven to cook through. How long it needs will depend on the thickness of the meat and how well it was sealed in the pan; 15–20 minutes is usually enough. You want the meat to be quite rare so it should just spring back when you press it.
7 Remove from the oven and place on a board. Cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.
8 Preheat the grill (or a barbecue) to a high heat.
While the venison is resting, grill the plums for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly charred, then set aside.
9 Drain the almonds, then, using a mandoline, carefully shave into small, thin slices.
Blitz any left-over celery leaves and stems in a blender with the yoghurt, a pinch of white pepper, the maple syrup and any resting juices from the venison. If the consistency is a little thick, add some water. Taste and check the seasoning.
10 Thinly slice the venison. Cut the plums into quarters.
11 Arrange the drained celery, wheat, plums and venison on a large platter, garnish with the almond shavings and drizzle over the yoghurt sauce.
Recipe courtesy of Simon Bajada, extracted from The New Nordic