Mike Robinson's perfect venison pavé.
I really want to focus on how to cook the perfect venison steak using a combination of cooking methods to ensure that it has plenty of colour on the outside but remains lovely and moist throughout.
For this recipe, I am using a beautiful cut called a pavé – this is a chunk of meat taken from one of the primal muscles in the back leg. I particularly love using fallow and sika venison.
The technique for preparing the meat is a French one, called seaming, and makes best use of each individual muscle whilst removing all the sinew. Your butcher will do this for you if you ask, just buy a whole haunch and freeze what you don't want.
You can add anything you want by way of an accompaniment, but try not to overpower it with big, bold flavours. One of my favourite ways of serving a venison steak is with a simple green sauce.
For the venison
4 x 200g fallow pavés
A small bunch of thyme or rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
Lots of black pepper
Sea salt for seasoning
50g unsalted butter
For the green sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 big handful of basil
1 big handful of parsley
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Blitz the garlic, thyme or rosemary, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor or a pestle and mortar, and pour into a Ziploc bag. Add the venison, and marinade for one hour at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 120˚C fan (no hotter). Once the oven is up to temperature, preheat a heavy-based frying pan on the stove until it is smoking hot. Because the venison is marinated in olive oil, there is no need to oil or butter the frying pan at this stage.
Seal and brown the venison really well, taking about 2 minutes to do so, but don't turn it too often. Try to get a good amount of colour on the meat.
Once nicely browned, place the steaks onto a baking tray and pop them into the preheated oven for 15 minutes, checking them after 10. When done, they should feel quite firm, with a little bit of give when pressed. The key to this is a combination of low cooking temperature and resting, which will give you the pink, but cooked result we are after.
Remove them from the oven and rest on a wooden board for 10 minutes. Once well rested, the meat will relax and they should feel a lot more tender to the touch.
Now make the green sauce by simply blitzing all of the ingredients in a food processor until coarse, a bit like pesto.
When you are ready to plate-up, preheat the pan again and briefly toss the steaks in foaming butter, sprinkling with sea salt as you go. This will bring warmth to the outside of the meat again and add depth and flavour.
Carve the steaks across the grain into five slices and lay out on a rustic plate. Spoon over the green sauce and pile some watercress on the side.