This recipe for chargrilled venison liver with roast squash, smoked bacon, madeira sauce and braised lettuce hearts can be cooked on the barbecue
Often referred to as the huntsman’s breakfast, venison liver is a delicacy that is rarely seen unless you stalk, but is available on request from any good butcher. Deeper in both colour and flavour than the better known calves’ liver, it has a subtle gamey taste, and a wonderful texture when chargrilled.
Ideal on a barbecue, it can be just as effectively cooked on a griddle pan, when — combined with salty smoked bacon and slightly crunchy lettuce hearts — it makes a wonderfully healthy and filling meal.
- Butternut squash or crown prince squash
- Rapeseed oil or good olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Handful of fresh thyme
- 4 rashers of thick-cut smoked bacon, cut into fine strips
- 4 baby gem lettuce, trimmed and cut in half lengthways
- Splash of madeira
- 100ml veal or game stock
- 1 front half venison liver, cut into 1in thick slices (de-veined and cleaned – ask your butcher to show you if necessary)
- Begin by quartering and de-seeding your squash, place it on a baking tray with a generous coating of oil, season well with salt and pepper, two of the garlic cloves, and a good scattering of fresh thyme. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for approximately one hour, turning occasionally until nicely caramelised and tender. Once cooked, cover with foil and keep warm until required.
- The liver and lettuce hearts will cook in about the same time, so pre-heat your chargrill or griddle pan and a large heavy-based frying pan until smoking hot.
- Using the frying pan, sauté the bacon strips and the remaining clove of garlic with a few sprigs of thyme in a little oil until they begin to crisp, then place the lettuce cut face down in the resulting bacon fat and allow to blacken slightly. Add the madeira, then the veal stock, and cook rapidly over a high heat until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency, then turn the lettuce and keep warm until required.
- While the lettuce is cooking, lightly oil the slices of liver, season well and chargrill, allowing approximately two minutes per side, and two to three minutes of resting time before serving. This should result in a medium rare pink finish.
- To assemble the dish, place a portion of caramelised squash in the centre of your serving plates, top with two lettuce hearts, then the grilled liver, and finish with the bacon and remaining juices from the braised lettuce.
- If you wish to use the dish for a more substantial meal, a serving of creamy mashed potato along with a peppery or mustard-based sauce is the perfect finishing touch on a main course.