Seared venison with grilled mushroom and goat’s cheese mousse

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You know that feeling when you are served something at a restaurant that is so good, you can’t wait to try it out at home? Well, this is exactly what happened to me the other day when I visited the Apiary, a fab new restaurant on Newington Road (http://www.apiaryrestaurant.co.uk/). As part of a £15 two-course pre-theatre deal I had a starter of venison which was out of this world gorgeous, I simply had to have it again. A mission was taking form.

How to go about it? First of all, I had to source the ingredients. And lovely and tasty as the mushrooms and goat’s cheese mousse are, the star of this dish is the venison. I knew where to get my hands on first rate venison steaks – from Seriously Good Venison (http://seriouslygoodvenison.co.uk/), who have a stall at the Edinburgh farmer’s market, so I went last Saturday.
And oh my, did those steaks taste good. I cooked this for my friend Hannah, who had never tried venison before, so the pressure was on. Turned out I really needn’t haven’t worried. Wolfing the food down with incredible speed, she looked like she’d just gone to heaven – sometimes a clean plate says it all. Mission accomplished.

Impressive as this looks, it is deceptively easy to make. You can prepare the mousse hours ahead (and by ‘preparation’ I mean chucking things in a blender.) The veggies are rather low-maintenance – and then all there’s left is to sizzle the steaks. Lazy cooking at its best.

Serves 2:
2 venison steaks – mine were sirloin steaks but you can use other cuts, too
4-6 medium-large sized potatoes
2-4 large flat mushrooms, I used Portobello
1 bag rocket salad
olive oil for roasting the potatoes, for frying the steaks, and for the mushrooms

salad dressing:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper

goat’s cheese mousse:
1 tub (about 150 g) spreadable goat’s cheese
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon capers
3-5 sundried tomatoes, cut into small chunks
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 leaves fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried (optional)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper

1. Prepare the goat’s cheese mousse: Put everything in a blender, or use a hand-blender in a bowl. Go easy on the smoked paprika, as it has a very strong smoky-spicy flavour. Blend everything and add more of the ingredients to your taste. Leave to sit in the fridge until dinner time.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Scrub the potatoes and cut into wedges. Transfer to a roasting tray and toss with plenty olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes start to brown at the edges and a fork easily goes through them.

3. Meanwhile, fix the dressing for the salad. Wash and scrub the mushrooms and place them upside-down in a roasting tray. Grind salt and pepper over them and trickle with olive oil. When the potatoes are just about done, transfer them to the lower rib of the oven and put the mushrooms under the grill until they are wrinkly and soft.

4. Put a pan on a very high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Grind salt and pepper on the steaks before transferring to the hot pan. Sear the venison steaks, one by one, for just a couple of minutes on each side – if you’re aiming for medium-rare. Cook slightly more or slightly less according to your preferences.

5. Toss the salad dressing with the rocket.  Spoon a dollop of goat’s cheese mousse on each mushroom. Serve with venison steak and roast potatoes.

 

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