The Friday Feast | 25 May, 2024

Venison backstrap w/ saucy kale, three cheese and green chilli pizza, shallot and dark ale sauce.

Another Friday, another projection into the dinners of the week ahead with the Friday Feast. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen newbie, we want our weekly musings on food to bring joy and deliciousness to your table. Let’s cook together. Here we go!

Venison backstrap w/ glazy kale

Try as we might, we find it hard to break out of the meat-n-3-veg paradigm. That said, we do love it, and it can produce simple and hearty meals for the cooler months. With Lenah Game Meats on deck this week, we simply had to start with some Venison. Pat your backstrap dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Let it sit for 15 minutes. This will allow the salt to draw out some moisture and the paprika to hydrate a little, so it doesn’t burn in the pan.

Heat a heavy pan over high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Sear the venison on all sides until a crunchy, golden crust forms, about 3 minutes per side. Lower the heat and cook to your desired doneness. Remember, though, that this cut is definitely best served medium-rare. The same goes for the filet, although aim for medium if using the rump of a leg primal. Rest the meat for 5-10 minutes while the kale cooks.

For the kale, remove any tough stems and roughly chop the leaves. Heat a large pan over medium heat with a big wadge of butter. Add two minced garlic cloves, a chopped red chilli and some finely diced shallot, and sauté until tender. Add a cup of chicken stock and reduce by two-thirds. Toss in the kale, stirring frequently, and cook until it wilts down and becomes tender, around 5-7 minutes. As you’re doing so, the stocky-sauce will reduce to a glaze. Ideal. Season with salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness.

To serve, place the sautéed kale on a warm plate and arrange the sliced venison on top. Drizzle with the resting juices and garnish with freshly chopped parsley. This dish pairs beautifully with a fragrant red wine like a Beaujolais or GSM. Or, better yet, a rich dark beer like Seven Sheds Willie Warmer. More on that particular delight later.

Three cheese and green chilli pizza

Definitely add some anchovies to this if that’s your bag.

This one came about during an overnighter in a little shack that just happened to have a wood-fired oven. It’s not necessarily essential, but a good working knowledge of how to pizza will help you out here. But, if you have a Gozney, fire it up. In any case, it’s a deliciously indulgent treat with a spicy kick

Begin with your favourite pizza dough – homemade or from Ali at Takin’ it Home; dealer’s choice. Preheat your oven to its highest setting, ideally around 250 degrees Celsius, and if you have a pizza stone, now’s the time to bust it out for that perfect crispy crust.

Roll out your dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness. Brush the base lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Now for the cheeses: slice 100g of Scamorza, tear apart 150g of buffalo Mozzarella, and grate 100g of Fontina or something Fontina-esque. Distribute the cheeses evenly across the dough, ensuring every bite is packed with gooey, melty goodness. Pro tip: give the buffalo mozzarella a few minutes on a paper towel to drain.

Next, slice two green chillies – adjust the quantity to suit your heat preference – and scatter them over the cheese. For an extra layer of flavor, add a few thinly sliced garlic cloves and a sprinkle of dried oregano.

Slide your pizza onto the hot stone or baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Once out of the oven, let it cool for a minute before slicing. Serve this melty masterpiece with a cold, crisp lager or a light, fruity white wine like Chablis. Gather your friends and family around because this pizza is a hell of a crowd-pleaser. A perfect harmony of creamy cheese and the aromatic zing of green chillies – a feast for any Friday night!

Shallot and dark ale sauce

This one can elevate any dish to restaurant-grade status. Firstly, finely chop eight shallots, lengthways. These will serve as the flavorful base of your sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter and sauté the shallots until they turn soft and golden brown, releasing their natural sweetness. Sweet, tick.

Secondly, to enhance the sauce’s savoury profile, add about 250 ml of chicken stock. This will bring a velvety texture and an additional layer of flavour. Allow the stock/shallot mix to simmer and reduce by about three-quarters, ensuring it coats the back of a spoon. Add a teaspoon of mustard. Savoury, tick.

Now, introduce the star of the sauce: Seven Sheds WIllie Warmer. Pour in three-quarters of a bottle. Drink the rest. Allow it all to simmer gently, infusing the sauce with rich, complex flavours. Let it reduce by two-thirds, intensifying its depth and character. Gentle bitterness, tick.

For a finishing touch, season with salt (salty, tick) and freshly ground white pepper. If you simply must have a restaurant-grade silky-smooth texture, you can strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Although, leaving the shallots intact adds that “rustic charm”.

This shallot and dark ale sauce is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, cauliflower steaks, or just bread and butter and dippy dippy. Its robust (sweet, savoury, bitter) flavour profile pairs beautifully with hearty dishes. It is undoubtedly a versatile and valuable addition to your repertoire.

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