This dish is usually associated with fillet of beef, but I’ve tried it with venison, added some chestnuts to the stuffing, and served it with a slightly sweetened sauce and found it really delicious. You can, of course, follow this recipe for fillet of beef but omit the chestnuts and cook for an extra 20 minutes. Two dishes from one recipe! Ask your butcher to bone the venison for you and trim the fillet of all sinew. Take the bones home to add flavour to the sauce.

Another way to serve this is to make the Bubble and Squeak, either cooked as per the recipe or in individual cakes. The venison slices can then be placed on top of the cakes and the sauce poured around.

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Ingredients

  • 1 × 450–750 g (1–1½ lb) boned loin of venison from a saddle of fallow deer
  • 275 g (10 oz) Puff Pastry
  • 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 4–6 thin Savoury Pancakes
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the Stuffing

  • 225 g (8 oz) mushrooms, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 smoked back bacon rashers, rinded and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A pinch of chopped fresh sage
  • A pinch of chopped fresh thyme
  • 25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 50 g (2 oz) shelled chestnuts, chopped
  • 25 g (1 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large chicken breast, skinned and minced or very finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the Sauce

  • Venison bones (optional)
  • 600 ml (1 pint) Red Wine Sauce
  • 1–2 teaspoons cranberry jelly

Method

To make the stuffing, cook the mushrooms on their own in a pan until almost dry. Cook the chopped onion, bacon, garlic, sage and thyme in the butter for a few minutes without colouring. Leave to cool. Add the chestnuts, breadcrumbs and parsley. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, gradually mix in the egg and mix until firm to the touch. Stir in the mushrooms and the onion mixture and check for seasoning.

The sauce can be made in advance. If you have the venison bones, pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. Chop the bones and roast in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until browned. Add them to the reduction for the Red Wine Sauce before adding the veal jus, then cook in the normal way. Once the sauce has been pushed through a sieve a good venison flavour will have developed. Stir in the cranberry jelly to give a slightly sweeter taste.

Roll out the pastry until large enough to wrap the venison; the thinnest should be 3 mm ( in) and the absolute thickest is 5 mm (¼ in.. Leave to rest in the fridge.

Season the venison and fry in the butter in a hot pan until coloured on all sides but not cooked. Leave to cool.

To make the Wellington, lay two of the pancakes on the centre of the pastry and spread some of the stuffing over to cover them. Lay the meat on top and spread some more of the stuffing on top. Fold the pancakes around the meat and lay the other two on top. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and fold over to enclose the meat and stuffing. Trim off any excess pastry and turn the parcel over on to a dampened roasting tray. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Brush the pastry with a little more beaten egg. The pastry can be decorated with pastry trimmings or left plain. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 20–25 minutes. This will leave the meat still pink inside. Leave to rest for 10–15 minutes.

Slice the Wellington, allowing three slices per portion, and serve with the hot, rich sauce.

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