Tom Kitchin: Venison burger | Celeriac salad

Tom Kitchin. Picture: TSPL

Tom Kitchin. Picture: TSPL

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IT MIGHT not look like the most attractive of ingredients, but the beauty of celeriac is all in the taste.

If you can look past its oddly shaped, rough, bumpy, earthy-coloured appearance, you can use this seasonal vegetable in a whole range of ways, and it will bring a sweet, subtle and almost nutty flavour to your dishes.

I find part of the joy of cooking with celeriac is cutting off the rough exterior to find the creamy smooth flesh inside. It can be quite tough, so you’ll need a sharp knife and a little force when you’re chopping it up. The best method is to cut the top and bottom off the vegetable then use a potato peeler to remove the skin.

If you’re not preparing it right away, it can discolour quite quickly after you chop it. The trick is to immerse it in a bowl of water, then add a squeeze of lemon and a splash of white wine vinegar to keep the colour. Simply drain it when you start cooking.

The classic method of preparing celeriac, and the way the French tend to enjoy it most, is in a rémoulade – an aioli or mayonnaise-based sauce. Equally, though, it can bring flavour and texture to soups, make a great alternative to mashed potato, or stand up to the season’s meat and game as a side dish or in a stew. I find celeriac and venison make a perfect pairing. The smooth, creamy sweetness of the celeriac is a joy when eaten with the delicious, tender, gamey meat; they balance one another perfectly. Adding a sweet finish with this rhubarb compote just brings the best of the season together on one delicious plate.

Seared venison with celeriac salad and rhubarb compote

Serves four

For the celeriac salad

1/2 celeriac – peeled

100ml mayonnaise

celery leaves

1 raw carrot – peeled

1 baby gem lettuce

chervil to garnish

For the rhubarb compote

6 rhubarb stalks – de-strung if necessary and cut into 1cm lengths

180g sugar, or to taste

finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

For the venison

500g venison loin

rapeseed oil for cooking

sea salt and ground pepper

Method

For the rhubarb compote

Place the rhubarb into a heavy-based saucepan with the sugar, orange zest and juice. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook gently for 25 minutes until the rhubarb is softened. When it is cooked, drain the juices into a pan, then boil to thicken slightly.

For the celeriac salad

Slice the peeled celeriac into thin julienne strips. Mix them in a bowl with the mayonnaise. Take 1 raw, peeled carrot and again cut into very thin julienne strips. Cut a baby gem lettuce into four and place the leaves over the carrot. Place the celeriac and mayonnaise on top and finish with celery leaves and chervil.

For the venison

Heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Heat a heavy-based, ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of rapeseed oil. Season the venison all over with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and briefly colour on both sides. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for a further six minutes until cooked to your liking, then leave to rest.

To serve

Add the sliced venison loin to the salad on the plate, and serve with a spoonful of the rhubarb compote.

Venison Burger with Celeriac Velouté

Serves four

For the celeriac velouté

1 white onion – sliced

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 celeriac – chopped

juice of half a lemon

350ml chicken stock

250ml milk

1 apple – chopped

salt and pepper

For the venison burger

800g minced venison

200g minced pork fat

1-2 whole eggs

200ml cream

200g breadcrumbs

50g dried apricots – chopped

salt and pepper

To serve

handful of croutons

1 rasher of bacon

handful of celery leaves (these are found in the heart of the celery)

1 tbsp of chervil (optional)

rapeseed oil

Method

For the celeriac velouté

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and sweat the onions over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until soft, but before they start to colour. Add the celeriac and sweat gently over a medium heat. If you place a lid over the pan for 3-4 minutes, it will create a steam to give you a more flavoursome result.

Add the lemon juice and the chopped apple, then cover the celeriac with the chicken stock and milk. Bring to the boil and heat for 15-20 minutes. If it starts to reduce down too much, add more milk and stock as required. Season with salt and pepper. Once the celeriac is soft, put it into a blender and mix until smooth.

For the venison burger

You can buy quality minced venison from your local butcher or farmer’s market. If you haven’t bought minced venison, then mince it, and add the apricots and mix. Add the egg, pork fat, cream and breadcrumbs and mix together, seasoning with salt and pepper. To test the seasoning of the burger, roll a small amount into a mini burger, pan fry and taste.

When satisfied with the seasoning, form the meat into four thick burgers and rub each with a little oil. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. When it begins to smoke, add the burgers and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are cooked to your taste.

To serve

Gently fry the bacon in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and chop into small pieces. Pour the celeriac velouté into deep bowls and place the venison burger in the centre. Garnish with the crispy bacon, croutons, celery leaves and the chervil if you wish, and finish with a drizzle of rapeseed oil.

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