Venison en crépinette with green pepper sauce (caillettes)
Meat en crépinette/caillettes have similarities to the humble sausage, which both consist of cuts of meat seasoned and encased in the innards, then hung to set. Most focus on encompassing a small part of the entire animal, therefore some offal such as liver is common. This is the high culinary equivalent of our rissole.
If you want to really lift it, it is also common to encase a prime cut inside the patty, much as you would, say, a Scotch egg. This adds to the cooking time as you need to allow the internal cut to reach medium-rare, so I would advise another four to five minutes in the oven. The best choice is generally eye fillet, but it could also work with backstrap or sirloin.
For this recipe we used a wild-harvested red deer, so we were able to incorporate the liver and some of the heart from the same animal. Of course, being able to use multiple cuts from the same animal is difficult, but I love the consideration and honour it brings to the ingredients. Two companies that I know of in Australia provide wild-harvested venison – Fair Game Wild Venison in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region and Discovered Foods based further south.
The quantities given here are, I find, a happy medium for the ingredients, but I do tend to up the quantity of liver as well as the greens, rice and onions. This makes the parcels more meal-like and a little more rounded in flavour, as opposed to tasting predominantly of the meat alone. Using wild greens such as sorrel and other slightly sour plants helps to balance the richness of the rest of the ingredients.
Time: 2 hours preparation + 30 minutes cooking
- 600g venison (shoulder)
- 300g fatty pork belly
- 200g pork skin
- 200g calf’s liver
- 100g boiled long-grain rice
- 100g caul fat (crépinette) or sausage casing
- 2 bunches collard greens (or mixed wild greens)
- 1 brown onion
- 1 head garlic
- 150ml white wine
- 15ml olive oil
- 5g quatre épices
- 2g white pepper
- 22g salt
Green pepper sauce
- 50g fresh green peppercorns
- 30ml brandy
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 100ml chicken stock
- Soak the caul fat/sausage casing in lightly salted water in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove the skin from the pork belly and boil it together with the other pork skin in salted water for one hour or until it is completely tender. Lift from the water and let it cool, then chop it up into a coarse mince with a knife.
- Shred the onions and the garlic with the greens and add to a hot pot with the oil. Cook this mix down until the liquid has evaporated, then add the wine. Cook the wine down until it has evaporated too. Let it cool.
- If you have a mincer, cut the pork and venison meat into large chunks and add the salt and the spices together in a large mixing bowl. Mix this several times over the course of one hour, then run the venison and the pork belly meat through the mincer on a coarse setting, together with the braised greens. If you do not have a mincer, buy the mince ready-made, add the greens and spice to the meat and incorporate with the salt in either a kitchen mixer or – and this is my preference – mix by hand in a bowl.
- Let this mix cool slightly in the fridge but not too much as the collagen begins to bind and it will become difficult to shape. Form this mix into 100-gram patties. Pull out a small amount of the caul fat and squeeze it dry. Cut into size to encase the patty and fold over on one side. Store these patties fold-side down for 30 minutes in the fridge before cooking.
- Seal the folded side of the patties in a hot pan for two minutes, flip over and place into a 160-degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift the parcels onto a plate. Place the pan back over the heat and deglaze with the brandy, then add the chicken stock and reduce by half. Add the cream and the peppercorns then the mustard and bring the sauce to the boil for two minutes or so until it reaches a velvet consistency.
- Serve each parcel carved through the middle with the sauce and some greens as a meal.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on January 14, 2023 as "Wild things".
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