Sika Deer, Mashed Swede, Chanterelles, Twiglets

Graham Garrett

Graham Garrett

19th January 2016
Graham Garrett

Sika Deer, Mashed Swede, Chanterelles, Twiglets

Sika deer is of Japanese origin. It's just stunning, it's the most beautiful piece of meat. The idea is that it's the deer and the forest floor. It's autumnal, so we use chanterelles, and a little bit of sweetness and spice comes from the damsons.

serves 4


  • 400g piece of venison loin (preferably sika), completely trimmed of all silver skin
  • a knob of butter
  • 75g yellow chanterelles
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, peeled and finely diced
  • kale or cabbage cress
  • for the spiced damson sauce
  • 450g damsons, stoned
  • 550g soft brown sugar
  • 350ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2.5g whole cloves
  • 2.5g ground allspice
  • 2.5g ground coriander seeds
  • 2.5g ground ginger
  • for the twiglets
  • 75g plain flour
  • 15g water
  • 10g black treacle
  • 5g olive oil
  • 10g malt extract or treacle
  • 10g Marmite
  • for the pudding filling
  • 300g diced venison (preferably sika), for braising
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150ml red wine
  • 300ml venison or chicken stock
  • for the suet pastry
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g suet
  • 3g fine sea salt
  • 1tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 egg yolk
  • water
  • for the mashed swede
  • 1 small swede
  • 15g sea salt
  • 50g butter
  • freshly ground black pepper


To make the spiced damson sauce, put everything into a non-reactive pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until thick. Transfer to a blender and blend to a smooth shiny jam. Store in a squeezy bottle. This will keep in the fridge for ages.

To make the twiglets, mix the flour and water with the treacle. Once smooth work in the olive oil. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Pinch off little pieces of the dough and roll them on your work surface with your hands into thin sticks. Lay them on a baking mat or parchment-lined tray and bake at 190°C for 5 minutes. Mix the malt extract or treacle with the Marmite (if it's too thick and sticky, blast it for a couple of seconds in the microwave) then lightly brush onto each twig to glaze. Sprinkle with salt flakes and leave in a very low oven or a hot cupboard for a couple of hours until crisp.

To make the pudding filling, in a small casserole or pressure cooker, brown the diced venison in a little oil or fat of your choice. Season with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. Remove the meat then add the onion and sweat until soft. Add the carrot, thyme, bay leaf, star anise and red wine. Bring the wine to the boil for a few seconds before returning the meat and covering with the stock. Cover with a circle of parchment and a lid and cook in an oven at about 170°C for an hour-and-a-half or pressure cook at full tilt for 30 minutes. Leave to cool then strain through a sieve or colander. Chop the carrot into smallish pieces and mix with the meat and onion. Discard the thyme stalks, star anise and bay leaf. Reduce the remaining gravy to a sauce consistency; reserve enough for serving, mixing the remainder with the venison.

To make the suet pastry, mix everything together and add just enough cold water to bring it all together, but not so much that it becomes sticky. Butter and flour 4 individual pudding moulds. Roll out your pastry to about 2mm thick, using a pastry cutter cut 4 discs big enough to line the moulds and 4 smaller discs for the lids. Line and fill the moulds with your braised venison mix, put on the lids, trim any excess pastry making sure the lids are sealed tightly. Wrap each pudding in cling film and steam for 30 minutes.

To make the mashed swede, peel and cut the swede into small chunks, cover with water, add salt and bring to the boil then simmer until very tender. Drain well before returning to the pan then roughly mash with the butter. Grind in plenty of black pepper. Season the venison loin with fine sea salt and pan roast in a little oil over a moderately high heat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add a knob of butter and continue to cook for another couple of minutes whilst continually basting with the butter until rare. Leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Briefly sauté the chanterelles and garlic in a little butter until just wilted.

To serve, turn the puddings onto warm plates with a spoonful of swede on each. Carve the loin into 4 even pieces, season the cut surfaces before putting on the plates. Squeeze a few dots of damson sauce around then scatter the mushrooms and twiglets along with a few sprigs of kale cress. Warm the remaining venison sauce and pour over the puddings.

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