July 12, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:43 pm

The problem I’ve found with being a foodie is that, the more you cook, the more sensitive you become about your cooking and the more particular you become about what you eat. At least this is true of me. I’ve discovered that there’s a part of me that can be quite a ridiculous snob. My ‘inner chef,’ as it were, seems to have developed the temperament of a certain sitcom character from the early 90s. *  

Last Saturday, flatmate Mike and his girlfriend, Christina, arrived at home while Goon and I were tucking into our dinner.

“What’s that you’re having?” he asked, “Steak and chips?”**

Vension au poivre and homemade chips with damson wine reduction 

A perfectly reasonable question given what he saw, I’m sure you’ll agree. But for some reason the small voice of my inner chef in the back of my mind greatly objected to this description of our food.

“Steak and chips! STEAK AND CHIPS?! This is a venison fillet au poivre with a damson wine reduction and HOME MADE maris piper chips!” it screamed silently at me.

Fortunately my conscious mind recognised how utterly daft this statement was and  managed to keep my inner chef under control. Not many people have encountered this side of me. This is probably for the best. It’s outbursts have been reserved for Goon, (when he gets the shopping list wrong), my parents (whenever I go into their kitchen) and the manager of a particularly rubbish and expensive gastropub.

If my inner chef starts escaping on a regular basis, I might need to seek psychiatric help. ;)

The venison fillet au poivre came about after I learnt about the origins of Steak Diane. Apparently the dish was originally made with venison and was named after the Greek goddess of hunting. I’d only ever seen the dish made with beef so I wondered if I could adapt the modern recipe to suit the rich flavours of deer. 

But, when I got home, I remembered that I’d finished the last of our cognac (the key ingredient in the Steak Diane sauce) on the day we moved flats***, so I needed a new plan.  I had a flash of inspiration and decided to make a reduction of the damson wine I had bought the previous morning on my trip to Borough Market. When the wine reduced, it turned out to be sweeter and more fruity than most red wine reductions but not quite as rich and syrupy as port. It was a perfect balance for the venison! The only problem was I needed to reduce about half a bottle to get enough sauce for the steaks. 

Apart from the chips, this meal was very easy to make. First I took about a tablespoon of back peppercorns and cracked them using a pestle and mortar. Then I crushed a clove of garlic and mix it with about two tablespoons of olive oil. I used the oil to coat the steaks and pressed the cracked peppercorns into the steak so the steak was lightly coated with the peppercorns.  The steaks were left covered for about an hour.

In the mean time I made the chips. I think maris piper potatoes are great for this. They have the best texture.  

I peeled six medium sized maris piper potatoes (which made a few too many chips, but we still ate them) and cut them into inch thick chips. I brought a pot of salted water to the boil and placed the chips in it. Once the water came back to the boil, I let it bubble for five minutes then drained the chips well. Since I don’t have a deep fat fryer, I had to cook my chips on the hob. I got a saucepan of sunflower oil hot then deep fried the chips until they were golden brown in batches of 8 at a time. It only took a minute or two for each batch to cook.  

As each batch finished cooking, I drained them on kitchen towel. Then, when they were all done, I seasoned them with salt, pepper and garlic granules.

Of course, we had our venison rare. The steaks went into a hot frying pan for just over a minute per side (basically just long enough for the outside to be properly cooked) and then were wrapped in foil and left to stand for about 8 minutes. As the steaks were standing, I literally just let half a bottle of the damson wine bubble until it was concentrated and slightly syrupy. I did’t feel the need to use any herbs with it, the flavour of the reduced wine was perfect on its own. 

Rare venison

It would have been totally successful if Goon hadn’t objected to the steak being peppered. Personally, I liked the combination of pungent peppercorns, rich meat and sweet wine sauce. The flavours were fantastic together.

We had our steak and chips venison fillet au poivre and home made maris piper chips with a rocket salad, coated in a simple dressing made from olive oil, rasperry vinegar and a touch of balsamic. I’d say it was a notch above your average steak and chips, but probably not enough to merit the daft fancy name my inner chef gave it! ;)

* Or perhaps a certain currently successful real celebrity chef. 

** Please note that when you imagine Mike talking, it must be with a very strong Coventry accent. It’s not the same otherwise. 

*** Well, it have been a nuisance to carry it all the way to my flat, right?


  1. Well it looks delicious to me. Your chips look ….yummy. There, I said it…I hope you are happy because I’ve sworn never to say that word on my blog, but I’ve had some wine and now I’ll say it on your blog…yummy, yes they do!

    Comment by Vanessa — July 13, 2007 @ 4:37 am

  2. >> Please note that when you imagine Mike talking, it must be with a very strong Coventry accent. It’s not the same otherwise.

    Harsh… but fair! ;)

    So, yes, re this ever-conceptual trip to Memsaab. Let’s do it after tour. SOON after tour. What are you doing w/c 13th August? I’m currently free every night.

    (Obviously we could technically have this conversation by email, but hell, I’m here now.)

    Comment by Dale — July 13, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  3. Vanessa, you’ve dared to say the y word on my blog?! :shock: Hehe… never mind I’m sure I’ll get over it. And the cips were yummy. Every once in a while, I need deep fried goodness to get me through the day.

    Dale, are you implying that there’s something WRONG with having a Coventry accent? ;) I think I’ll be free tat week, although I’ll try to sort out my holiday plans before we set a date.

    Comment by ros — July 16, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  4. Fillet au poivre is Dave’s favorite. That looks so wonderful. I really wish venison was more accessable in Florida!

    Comment by Lea — July 19, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

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