This is a good recipe for entertaining and an impressive way to cook venison. The kumara adds a buttery richness to the dish and the earthiness of the mushrooms compliments the flavour of the meat well. If you wanted to save time and did not want to use the pastry aspect of the dish you could simply grill the venison and add some cream and meat stock to the mushrooms for a simple mushroom sauce.
Venison Wellington with mushrooms and kumara mash
600g venison back strap
2 sheets puff pastry
Splash of milk
1/2tsp dried thyme or fresh
1tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Splash milk or cream
Finely dice the onion, mushrooms and garlic by pulsing them all together in a food processor. Place in a pot along with the butter and thyme and cook out on a low to moderate heat until everything has softened and the liquid has evaporated, about 15mins. Add the vinegar and cook for another 2mins. Season to taste with salt and pepper then set aside to cool.
Peel the kumara and cut into even sized pieces. Starting in cold, salted water boil the kumara until nice and soft. Drain in a colander then return to the pot and cook over a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to remove any excess water. Mash the kumara until nice and smooth. Melt the butter along with a little milk or cream and fold through the kumara mix. If the mash is too stiff add some cream or milk to thin it down and then season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Trim the venison back strap of any silver skin by inserting a sharp pointed knife (such as a boning knife) under one end of the silver skin then with the blade angled upward remove the silver skin off in strips cutting off as little meat as possible. Pat the meat dry with a kitchen towel if required and season with salt and pepper. In a very hot pan with a little oil, sear the back strap until nicely browned on each side but not at all cooked. Set aside.
Place the venison on a pastry sheet (you may need to cut your venison in half to fit depending on the size of your pastry sheets). Spoon some of the cold mushroom mix on top of the venison so the entire top of the meat is covered and then with one edge of the pastry brushed with milk so that it sticks, roll the venison and the mushroom together in the pastry and pinch the edges. Brush the pastry with milk.
Bake the venison Wellington on an oven tray lined with grease proof paper in a 200C oven for 10-15mins for rare to medium rare depending on the thickness of your back strap. Cooking beyond medium rare will make your venison dry. Once cooked remove from the oven and poke a few small holes in the base of the pastry to allow any resting juices to escape and rest on an oven rack for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with some hot kumara mash and a green salad or seasonal veg along with Branston pickle if desired.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/