This type of dish absolutely reeks of restaurants and, in particular, rather grand restaurants of a certain age which certainly describes L’Escargot in Greek Street. Originally called L’Escargot Bienvenue, this famous place has been around for most of this century, but by the late 1970s it was so run down that the Health Inspector shut it down due to literally hundreds of violations. It was bought by a young Manchester businessman called Nick Lander, who was convinced that Soho had a future when everyone else had written it off. He spent a fortune renovating it and brought in the first wine list that was all New World. He also hired a young and very inexperienced chef – me. It was quite a big place, seating about 200. I’d never cooked for more than about 40 people before. I believe the modern term for this is ‘a steep learning curve’; bloody precipitous, more like it.
This particular incarnation of venison comes from Restaurant Troisgros in Roanne in central France. Along with
Put the stock of your choice in a saucepan, add the same quantity of water to it, along with the venison trimmings, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat low and simmer for 1½ hours, skimming often until reduced; don’t add any salt at this stage. Pass through a sieve into a clean pan, discard the solids, and boil again to reduce it to
Spread the ground pepper on a plate and lightly press the pieces of venison into this on both sides. Season with salt. Melt a third of the butter in a frying pan over a high heat, and as soon as it starts to foam, add the medallions. Sauté for 2 minutes on each face, then remove to rest on a warm plate in a warm place. Do not rinse the frying pan out, it is needed for the sauce.
This type of sauce is known in professional kitchens as a déglace, in more simple terms, a pan gravy, quick and easy to make providing you have everything to hand. Return the frying pan to the flame, add the port and the redcurrant jelly, stir and add the stock. Boil vigorously, scraping and stirring, until the jelly is dissolved and the stock has reduced by half. This will probably take a few minutes. When the liquid in the pan begins to look syrupy, remove from the flame and add the remaining butter in small pieces. Swirl the pan to incorporate the butter as it melts. The butter will thicken the sauce and give it a rather appetising gloss.
Tip the medallions into the frying pan with the sauce. Be sure to also tip in any juices that have run out of the meat. Over a very low heat, warm the meat and sauce for a few seconds. Do not boil the sauce with the venison in it, or the flesh will toughen. Remove the medallions to two serving plates and coat with the sauce. The venison is best with chips and a green salad.
© 1999 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.