Smoked Venison with Roast Jerusalem Artichokes, Pickled Onions & Smoked Chilli

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Preparation info

  • For

    Six

    Starters
    • Difficulty

      Complex

Appears in

The Sugar Club Cookbook

By Peter Gordon

Published 1997

  • About

I first remember smoking meat and fish with my father Bruce as a child in Wanganui. Dad would build a metal box with a removable lid. Across the rim of the box there were metal rods from which he suspended the fish on hooks. Then we lit a fire and, when it was a mass of embers, we’d get it really smoky with a combination of branches and water to stop it flaring up. After a couple of hours the fish would emerge moist, smoky and delicious.

A version of the method is given with this recipe. It makes a lot of smoke, so attempt it only at an outdoor barbecue or if you have a powerful extractor. Smoking works well with almost anything – salmon, mackerel, chicken, garlic, chillies and tomatoes (combine the last three in a delicious salsa or soup). Here I use venison fillet, which is lean but rich in flavour. Beef and lamb fillets smoke just as well and are a little easier to get hold of. This is a really tasty dish, so I usually serve it as a starter. Smoke a minimum of 500g (18 oz) of meat as the effort required to set up your smoker will seem wasted on less. Plain tea gives the best results, but try other things smoked over jasmine or Earl Grey tea.

Ingredients

  • 500g (18 oz) venison fillet, trimmed of all fat and sinew
  • 1 star anise, finely ground
  • 2 juniper berries, crushed
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh oregano
  • 200g (7oz) coarse sea salt
  • 200g (7 oz) demerara sugar
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) sesame oil
  • 1 red chilli, cut in half and seeds removed
  • cups tea leaves
  • cups white rice
  • 500g (18oz) Jerusalem artichokes
  • 50ml ( fl oz) olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized red onions, peeled and very finely sliced into rings
  • 100ml ( fl oz) lemon juice
  • 30g (1 oz) unrefined caster sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method

Mix the star anise, juniper berries, oregano, sea salt, demerara sugar, sesame oil and the chilli together in a bowl. Add the venison and rub the mixture over it. Cover the bowl and turn the meat every half hour for 4 hours.

To make the smoker, get two metal roasting dishes and a cake rack slightly larger than the piece of venison – one, if not both, of the dishes must be deeper than the height of the fillet to ensure that it will be completely enveloped in smoke. Mix the tea leaves and rice together, tip them into one of the roasting dishes and lay the rack above this. If the rack is smaller than the dishes, you’ll need to suspend it at least 6cm (2½in) above the bottom to prevent the meat from burning. This can be done by seating the rack on four metal dariole moulds.

Remove the venison from the marinade and lay it on the rack with the two chilli halves, then spoon quarter of a cup of the marinade over the meat, letting it dribble on to the tea mixture below. Invert the second roasting dish over the first and seal the join tightly with aluminium foil. Turn a cooking ring up to full and sit the ‘smoking dish’ on it. After 3—5 minutes smoke will come out – this is exactly what you want. Keep it smoking for another 8 minutes, then take it off the heat and pull off the foil. Remove the top roasting dish and check how far the venison has smoked. It should remain rare in the middle so that it doesn’t become too dry. If you want it done more, reseal and return to the heat. When it’s finished, remove the top roasting dish and leave the meat (with the chilli) on the rack to cool. Leave it to sit for 2 hours before carving.

Meanwhile, mix the onion slices, lemon juice, sugar and half a teaspoon of salt together well and leave to sit for at least 90 minutes to pickle lightly.

Set the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes clean and slice them into 5mm (⅕in) pieces. Toss with the olive oil and some salt and pepper, then lay them on a baking tray and roast until cooked. Test by inserting a sharp knife as you would for a potato. Dice the smoked chilli finely.

To serve, carve the venison into 5mm (⅕in) slices, place on the roasted Jerusalem artichokes and top with some of the pickled onions. Complete the dish by sprinkling with the smoked chilli before drizzling with some of the pickling liquid and extra virgin olive oil.