Rose Prince celebrates the Platinum Jubilee by serving up wonderful venison fillet in a creamy, buttery sauce — a dish fit for HM The Queen. Serves two.
Apparently, HM The Queen likes one of her favourite dishes — Gaelic steak — two ways. When at one of her English homes, this incredibly rich, French-style, recipe is made with beef fillet steak. However, when at Balmoral, it is made using venison shot on the estate. I have not been able to discover which deer species is best, but I imagine that, when served at a small gathering, it would be the more conveniently-sized roe. (Read more on Our Queen of the Countryside.)
The dish would normally contain garlic, but The Queen reportedly hates this allium, so the creamy, whisky-spiked sauce is flavoured with finely chopped onion. I believe that she’s right — garlic would overwhelm the wonderfully rich, yet simple flavours.
Chefs who have previously worked in the palaces seem to be able to gossip — respectfully — about their experiences of working for the Royal Family and reveal the menus. When we ran a shoot in Dorset during the 1990s, we hired two retirees from the Queen Mother’s household to help with the food — served in the village hall. They sent over sample menus showing their range, which I strongly suspect were the same playbook of suggestions presented to their former boss each week.
The Royal Family enjoy the great benefit of producing their own food from farms, shooting estates and walled gardens. It was revealed to me that the Queen Mother never ate breakfast in London without raw milk from the dairy at Windsor. I’d guess this played a part in her longevity.
Another royal chef talked about The Queen’s lack of interest in calories. She loves, as you will discover with this delightful recipe, lashings of cream and butter. She is, however, disciplined enough to eat only small portions. What a very sensible lady she is.
Gaelic Steak — the Queen’s Favourite
- 500g venison fillet, cut in two
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp duck fat
- 30g butter
- For the sauce: 60g butter
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 200g chestnut mushrooms
- 60ml whisky
- 200ml double cream parsley, finely chopped
- To serve: Parsnip and potato, mashed with cream and butter
- Baby carrots, glazed with a little sugar and butter
- Generously season the venison fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based sauté pan over a medium-high heat and add the duck fat and butter. When the butter foams, place the steaks in the pan and fry, turning every 30 seconds or so until well sealed and browned. The heat needs to be kept under control to avoid burning them.
- Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, turning them occasionally with tongs, until you see red droplets forming on the surface of the meat. This shows that the steaks will be medium-rare on the inside. Obviously, cook for less time if you prefer very rare meat. The whole process should take about 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Remove the steaks from the pan and place on a plate in a warm place (at about 45°C to 50°C) for about 6 minutes to rest.
- Add the remaining butter to the pan. Turn up the heat a little, then add the onion. Cook until it is transparent, then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes, then add the whisky. It may flame, so be careful. Keep stirring for 30 seconds and then pour in the double cream. Allow the cream to bubble for a minute or so, then remove the pan from the heat.
- To serve, slice the fillets across the grain and divide among two warmed plates, as venison cools very quickly. Pour the sauce around the meat, scatter the parsley over the sauce and immediately take to the table. Serve the Gaelic steak with the vegetables.