- December 2022
- Serves 8
- Hands-on time 2 hours 30 min. Oven time 25 min, plus resting
Venison wellington makes a fabulous alternative to Christmas turkey. Try this prep-ahead recipe from top chefs, Chris and Jeff Galvin. Venison loin is encased in golden pastry and a chicken and wild mushroom mousseline. Serve with a jug of rich madeira sauce.
The Galvin Brothers’ story Essex-born Chris and Jeff Galvin are at the forefront of reinventing classic French bistro food for the UK, creating a Michelin-starred restaurant empire that offers affordable luxury with a family friendly atmosphere. The brothers have worked at some of the best restaurants in the world, and both are committed to their family, many of whom also work for the business.
- 22.1g (2g sugars)
- 1 venison loin (around 800g)
- Knob of unsalted butter
- Plain flour to dust
- 500g block all-butter puff pastry
- 4 medium free-range egg yolks, beaten
For the sauce
- 250ml madeira wine
- 500ml beef stock
- 50g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- Meat thermometer
For the mousseline
- 125g skinless chicken breast, chopped
- Knob of unsalted butter
- 50g mixed mushrooms, ideally wild
- 125ml double cream
- Pinch cayenne pepper
For the pancakes
- 50g plain flour
- 1 medium free-range egg
- 60ml whole milk
- 1 tbsp finely chopped herbs (such as parsley, tarragon and/or chives)
- Vegetable oil, to fry
- Begin with the sauce, as it can be made in advance and simmer away while you get on with other things. Pour the madeira into one small saucepan and the beef stock into another. Put both over a medium heat and simmer, uncovered, until the stock has reduced by about two-thirds and the madeira is almost a syrup (make sure it doesn’t burn). This should take about 25 minutes. When they’re ready, mix them together, then remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, make the mousseline. Put the chicken in the bowl of a food processor, then put the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes to get it nice and cold. While you wait, heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the mushrooms. Fry for 5 minutes until beginning to colour, then drain on kitchen paper. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the mushrooms in the paper to remove as much liquid as possible, then finely chop. Reserve in the fridge until needed.
- Once chilled, whizz the chicken for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until a smooth purée forms. With the motor still running, gradually pour in half the cream, then season with a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper. Add the remaining cream, whizz briefly to just combine, then transfer to a bowl, stir in the chopped mushrooms and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- To make the pancakes, whisk together the flour, egg and a pinch of salt. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly, then stir through the herbs. Put a wide nonstick frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of oil. Add enough of the pancake batter to coat the base of the pan in a thin layer, cooking for 1-2 minutes on each side until set. You should be able to get 4-6 pancakes in total – don’t worry about how neat they are as they won’t be on show. Keep in the fridge until needed.
- In the same frying pan, seal the venison. Season the loin all over with salt and add another knob of butter to the pan, putting it over a high heat. Cook the loin for a few minutes, turning it regularly, until browned all over. Remove and set aside.
- Cover a work surface with a large sheet of baking paper. Arrange the pancakes on it, overlapping them slightly, to create a large rectangle that is 5cm longer than the length of the venison loin. Spread the chicken mousseline onto them, then put the fillet in the centre. Using the paper to help you, roll the pancakes up around the fillet to create a large sausage-shaped parcel. Wrap tightly in the paper, securing it with string if needed, then put the parcel in the fridge to chill while you prepare the pastry.
- Dust your work surface with plain flour and start rolling out the pastry until it’s 3-4mm thick. Leave it there to rest for 10 minutes to allow for shrinkage, then cut out a rectangle measuring 50cm x 30cm – any leftover pastry can be used to decorate the wellington. Brush the pastry with some of the beaten egg yolks, then carefully unwrap the pancake-wrapped venison. Put the parcel in the middle of the pastry. Wrap the pastry tightly around it, creating a complete seal, then trim off any excess to make it as neat as you can. Decorate with the leftover pastry however you like, then brush with more egg wash and leave, uncovered, in the fridge for 1 hour before egg washing again.
- Heat the oven to 200°C fan/gas 7. Bake the wellington for 25 minutes or until the core temperature reaches 30°C for medium-rare; a little longer if you like it medium. Leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, gently reheat the sauce and, just before serving, whisk in the diced butter to thicken it up and give it a beautiful gloss.
Making a wellington is no mean feat but, as the Galvin brothers say, the best thing about it is the prep is done entirely in advance. Do everything up to the end of step 7 a day or two ahead, then pick up where you left off about an hour before you plan to serve.
“We love to make this at Christmas – there’s a feeling of luxury when bringing it to the table and anticipation when the first slice is cut. A mousseline of chicken and wild mushrooms in place of a traditional mushroom duxelles makes for a richer dish. It’s wonderful to make for friends and family because all the work is in the preparation, meaning no last-minute stress and lots of time to enjoy each other’s company.” Chris and Jeff Galvin
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