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Eat the Seasons - January 2015

Fruit, Nuts & Fungi
Apples, Chestnuts, Pears (late – Concorde, Doyenne du Comice, Conference and Winter Nellis), Rhubarb (forced), Walnuts
Vegetables & Herbs
Jerusalem Artichokes, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Kale, Leeks, Parsnips, Potatoes, Swede, Turnips.
Meat & Game
Duck, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Venison
Fish & Shellfish
Brill, Clams, Cockles, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Monkfish, Mussels, Oyster, Plaice, Turbot

Happy New Year! Last year my eat, drink and be merry campaign went down a storm, so I have decided to continue in the same vein.  Don’t despair, don’t be gloomy…..we can embrace these cold dark nights, and ward off winter bugs with some good ‘soul warming’ food!


There isn’t an awful lot of home grown seasonal produce to choose from at this time of year I know, but that means it’s a great time to be adventurous.  Maybe I can tempt you with this recipe for Venison served with sweet and sour parsnips, pear and curly kale?  It sounds terribly exotic, but is really quite a simple dish that makes the very most of the wonderful flavour of venison. 

Venison with sweet & sour parsnips & curly kale

Serves 2

Less than 30 minutes preparation time

30 minutes to 1 hour cooking time


2 x 225g/8oz venison loins, fully trimmed

Freshly ground black pepper

20 juniper berries, freshly ground

75g/3oz butter

110g/4oz caster sugar

110fl oz/4fl oz malt vinegar

1 medium parsnip, peeled, sliced into thin ribbons

110ml/4fl oz chicken stock

200g/7oz kale, washed thoroughly, tough stalks removed

To serve:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt, to taste

200ml/7fl oz red wine gravy, heated to boiling point



  • Season the venison loins all over with freshly ground black pepper and some of the ground juniper berries.

  • Roll each seasoned venison loin tightly in heatproof cling film (it is worth doing two layers as you want to make sure no water gets into the parcel) to form two sausages.

  • Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then reduce the heat until the water is simmering at roughly 650C/150F (use a thermometer to check the temperature).

  • Add the wrapped venison loins, then return the water to 650C/150F and simmer for 15 minutes.

  • Remove the poached venison loins from the water, remove the cling film and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, heat a frying pan until hot, then add half the butter.  When the butter is foaming, add the poached venison and fry for 30-40 seconds on each side, or until just browned all over.  Remove from the pan and rest for five minutes.

  • Bring the sugar and vinegar to the boil in a saucepan, and then add the remaining ground juniper berries and cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon (be careful as this will get very hot).

  • Add the parsnip ribbons, in batches if necessary, and boil for 5-10 minutes, or until tender.  Remove from the poaching liquid, shake off any excess liquid very carefully and set aside.  Keep warm.  Repeat the process with the remaining parsnip ribbons as necessary.

  • Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a separate saucepan, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering.  Whisk in the remaining butter, then add the kale and cover the pan with a lid for 5-10 minutes, or until just tender.  Then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • To serve, carve each venison loin into three slices.  Place three of the slices into a line down the centre of each plate.  Top each piece of venison with some of the sweet and sour parsnip ribbons. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season to taste with salt.  Spoon the kale alongside.  Spoon over the red wine gravy.