Red deer meat might not be top of everyone’s list, but Tim Maddams has a buttery trick up his sleeve to transform it into a firm favourite. Serves two.
Venison haunch recipe – pan roasted
For the butter:
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tSp French mustard
- 20g good-quality olive oil
- 1 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, finely grated
- 6 anchovies, finely chopped
- 2 tsp capers, finely chopped
- A good sprig of mixed parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives, finely chopped
- 2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp brandy
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- A touch of grated nutmeg
- A tiny, but very important, dash of sherry vinegar
- Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
For the steak:
- 200g red deer haunch steak (at room temperature, well seasoned with salt)
- A little light oil
- 10g plain butter
- 30g (or good dollop) Café de Paris butter
- A sprig of thyme (or stalks from the thyme sed for Café de Paris butter)
- Warm the butter to a little above room temperature, so that it is soft enough to whip. Whip it with a whisk until light and fluffy. Whip in the ketchup and mustard, then the olive oil.
- Now, using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, beat the rest of the ingredients into the butter, taking care to add the liquids a little at a time so the butter doesn’t split.
- Scoop the seasoned butter out of the mixing bowl on to a piece of fresh baking parchment and roll into a sausage shape. Chill this in the fridge for a few hours until set. Alternatively, use what you need now while it is still soft and then wrap the rest to freeze for use at a later date.’
- Heat a trusted pan until it is not quite smoking hot, but close enough to be thinking about it. Lightly oil the steak and place it in the hot pan. Leave it to sizzle and colour nicely, without moving it. After a minute or two, add the plain butter and the thyme. After another minute, cook the steak on the other side, allowing for it to continue cooking a little as it rests. Set the steak aside on a warmed plate. After a five-minute rest, pour the resting juices into the still-warm pan and slice the steak. Place the Café de Paris butter atop the sliced steak and pour over the resting juices warm from the pan. The flame of a blowtorch can be played over the butter, which gives a nice smokey aroma to the dish. Serve with crispy French fries and a bit of salad.
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My thoughts on red deer venison
Red deer is my least favourite of the deer species, so a venison haunch recipe for pan-roasting a haunch steak is the ideal place for a tasty lump of melty seasoned butter.
I have nothing against red deer meat and I am sure that, at the right time of year, a well-handled carcass can provide excellent fare, but whenever I have had the opportunity to eat red, I have been less than overwhelmed with the result.
This leads me to ask why we call all deer meat venison when each species is so different. But we sell beef as beef when you may have Dexter or Longhorn, which will be as different in flavour as roe and red deer. Perhaps I need to accept what red deer meat is like and adapt my cookery to get the very best from it, rather than comparing it unfairly with other species.
Café de Paris, the West End London nightclub that was bombed in the Blitz and was the location for the first Charleston danced in England in 1924, has apparently closed its doors forever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily for us, the recipe for the world-famous Café de Paris butter comes from the Café de Paris in Geneva, rather than the London version.
The story goes that, in 1930, Monsieur Boubier decided that his son-in-law’s restaurant needed a new dish and came up with serving entrecôte steak, with frites and salad but with a twist — the awesomely flavoured butter known as Café de Paris butter. Over the decades, the recipe has proliferated through the folk network of cooks and chefs and is now found all over the place. No recipe notebook is complete without a version, I hope you will agree.
Once made, this butter can be stored in the fridge or freezer for use whenever that extra unctuous, super-savoury, indulgent box needs ticking. This venison haunch recipe will win me no favours with those who complain about how many ingredients us food-writing types require. But if you must, it could be pared down to the bare bones using only shallots, anchovies, herbs, pepper and sherry vinegar.