This is a simplified version of one of my very popular restaurant dishes. The rich sauce, tender venison and sweet squash purée are perfectly paired with the crunchy, nutty granola. This is perfect comfort food, made into an impressive dish for entertaining.
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 celery stalks, quartered
1 leek, white part only, quartered
1 carrot, quartered
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
10 juniper berries
200ml red wine
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp black treacle
500ml veal or beef stock
500ml chicken stock
6 loin of venison portions
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the granola
20g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
50g pecan nuts, chopped
50g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
100g cooked beetroot
2 tsp thyme leaves
For the purée
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium-large butternut squash, cut into 3cm thick pieces
4 sprigs rosemary
Heat a large ovenproof casserole over high heat and add half the oil, the celery, leek and carrot to the pan and lightly brown. Stir in the bay leaves and spices, then pour in the port, red wine and vinegar. Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid by about a third.
Add the treacle and stocks. Return to the boil, then reduce the liquid to a thick, syrupy consistency. Strain through a sieve, season with salt and pepper and keep hot.
Preheat the over to 160°C / 140°C fan / gas 3. For the beetroot granola put the oats, seeds, pecan nuts and cranberries in a mixing bowl and stir together. Put the beetroot, honey and thyme in a blender and blitz to a smooth purée. Mix into the dried oat mixture and tip onto a non-stick baking sheet. Bake in the over for 20 – 30 minutes until golden and crisp, turning on the tray a few times to ensure it cooks evenly. Remove and leave to cool.
To make the squash purée, heat the oil in a roasting tray over medium heat, add the squash and fry until slightly coloured. Season with salt and pepper and add the rosemary. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Increase the heat and allow the butter to become a nutty brown in colour.
Transfer the soft squash to a blender, add the browned butter and blitz until smooth. Season and keep hot.
Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan over a high heat. Season the venison and brown in the pan on all sides. Finish off in the oven for 10 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes, then slice. Serve the squash purée with the venison on top and the beetroot granola and reduced sauce.
Recipe extract from Marcus At Home