Venison with Golden Beets and Elderflowers
Courtesy of Hank Shaw (Hunter Angler Gardener Cook)
- 4 venison shanks (or lamb shanks)
- salt to taste
- 1 cup (50 g) ramp leaves (or the green part of scallions/green onions)
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (56 g) lard or butter
For the beets and sauce
- 1 large golden beet, well-scrubbed and trimmed
- 12 to 20 small (ping-pong ball size) golden beets, well scrubbed and trimmed
- salt to taste
- 1 to 3 tablespoons (15 to 45 ml) malt vinegar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) elderflower syrup (available online)
- 1 large cluster elderflowers, removed from stems (or you may substitute 1/4 cup/60 ml volume dried elderflowers)
- Fill and preheat the SousVide Supreme water oven to 148F/64.5C.
- Salt the shanks well.
- Divide the shanks between two cooking pouches, adding half the ramp leaves and half the lard or butter to each pouch.
- Vacuum seal the pouches and submerge them in the water oven to cook for 22 to 26 hours for deer or 18 to 22 hours for lamb. (Cooking time for deer will depend on how old the deer was. The older the deer, the tougher it may be, and therefore the longer the time needed to tenderize. )
- Meanwhile, on serving day, cook the small beets and make the sauce, for which you’ll need the pouch juices.
- Once the meat has cooked, remove it from the pouch and set aside; reserve the pouch juices, but discard the ramp leaves.
To cook beets and sauce
- Boil the small beets in a pot of salty water until tender, then peel while still warm. Cut into wedges and set aside. (NOTE: You can instead cook the beets sous vide before you begin to cook the venison if you prefer. Instructions follow at the bottom.)
- Peel the large beet and then slice it as thinly as you can, preferably on a mandoline. (If you don’t have a mandoline, use a sharp knife to get very, very thin rounds.)
- Soak the large beet slices in ice water for 10 minutes, then lay them on a tea towel to dry.
- Put 1 cup (240 ml volume) of the cooked beet wedges into a blender with some of the pouch juices from cooking the venison and puree.
- Taste the sauce as you go, and add either more of the juices or water to get the consistency of a thick sauce without letting it get too salty.
- The sauce will need acid, so add malt vinegar in small doses until it tastes to your liking. Keep warm.
- Warm the elderflower syrup in a small pot on low heat.
- Toss the remaining beet wedges in the syrup and let them warm gently.
To finish the venison
- Paint the shanks with some of the beet sauce and sear them on all sides on a well oiled hot grill or in a hot saute pan with a little oil. You want some crispy edges to the meat.
- As you turn them, paint the surface with more beet sauce and let that caramelize.
- Remove the shanks from the heat, let cool a little, and pull the meat to pieces.
- Remove the beet wedges from the elderflower syrup and arrange them on the plate with the venison pieces.
- Dredge the large beet slices in the remaining elderflower syrup and arrange on the plate.
- Dot some of the sauce here and there.
- Finish by sprinkling each plate with elderflowers.
- Serve with a light red wine (Beaujolais, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, etc.) or a strong white, such as a Roussane, Viognier, an oaky Chardonnay or white Cotes du Rhone blend.
To cook the beets sous vide
- Fill and preheat the water oven to 183F/82C.
- Put the small beets in a single layer into a cooking pouch, add salt to taste, and vacuum seal.
- Submerge the pouch in the water oven to cook for 1 hour until tender.
- Remove the beets from the bath and quick chill, in the pouch, in ice water. Refrigerate until an hour before serving.
- Lower the temperature of the water oven to 148F/64.5C (add ice to the bath to speed it along) to cook the venison as above.
- Drop the pouch of cooked beets into the water oven for about 30 to 45 minutes, along with the venison, to reheat.
- Remove beets from the pouch, peel while still warm, and cut into wedges. Proceed with the beet sauce preparation and finishing steps.