Sunday, 9 December 2012

Recipe LXXXIII - Venison Steaks in Brandy Sauce with Spätzle

German food. In terms of oxymorons, it ranks alongside French self-deprecation, Scandinavian beach resorts and beautiful Belgian scenery. What is Germany's greatest contribution to food? The hamburger? Not in the least. The schnitzel, maybe? That was stolen from the Czechs. The frankfurter, possibly? If you can find any meat in it. The apple strudel? Strong contender if it wasn't originally Czech too.

No, amongst all the stodge, the greatest contribution the Germans have made to food is their cakes. The Black Forest gâteau being exhibit number one. But amongst all the cream and fruit, there lies an alternative German cuisine that never raises its head above all the commercial stuff: their pasta. German pasta? Yep. And it's quite good. Spätzle is like short linguine, but unlike the Italian version, it can also be fried and is much more satisfying to the stomach. This recipe is one of my own, although I am sure variants exist.

Ingredients and instructions for the venison:
500g venison, cut into steaks or medaillons
2 tablespoons of cinnamon in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of flour (1:2 ratio, depending on your need)
10 peppercorns, black, ground
Salt the venison a little.

Put the flour, cinnamon and pepper into a flat bowl and mix until homogeneous.

Roll the venison in it, then set the meat aside (fridge) for a while, whilst you cut up the vegetables.

Ingredients for the sauce:
4 shallots or small onions
Some porcini mushrooms
Some whole black peppercorns
Some currants, sultanas or raisins
2 apples, diced
Some red berry confit (blackcurrant, redcurrant or something similar)
Some old-style mustard (seeds included)
Some thyme
A glass of brandy

Fry the steaks and onions/shallots in butter for a few minutes, then remove the meat. Add the whole peppercorns, and stir until they puff up. Then add the mushrooms, raisins and apples, and stir for a minute or two before you add the brandy, which will hiss and bubble with an aroma that should make small animals pass out, so put a lid on top and reduce the heat. About 5 minutes later, add a spoonful of mustard and confit, and some thyme. Keep on the lid and allow the liquids to run. You can put the venison steaks back on top, to integrate. Do not fear, the cinnamon exterior remains.

While that is going on, boil your spätzle. This takes between 10 and 12 minutes. Don't believe the packets in Germany which tell you to boil pasta for 2 minutes longer than necessary. Germans like soggy, runny pasta apparently.
As a nice touch, when you serve, why not put the spätzle all round the outside and fill up the middle with your sauce, putting your venison on top?

This goes well with a young, tart red wine from Navarra or northern Italy.

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