Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Antelope with wild mushroom sauce and asparagus

Antelope

I bought generously cut steaks of Sprinbok antelope. The meat is incredibly lean, with a subtle game-yness, so I wanted to cook the steaks simply, to allow the flavour to come through unmasked. As with all red meat, don't forget to get the steaks out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before cooking, to ensure the meat will be tender. I rubbed the steaks with a little bit of oil, seasoned them and chucked them in a very hot frying pan for 2-3 minutes on each side. Leave the steaks to rest on a warm plate for up to ten minutes. It's as easy as A, B, C.

Wild mushroom sauce

For the sauce, I made some chicken stock by boiling up a chicken carcass with roughly chopped onion, carrot, celery and leek, topped up with water. I added salt, a few whole black peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves and a few springs of fresh thyme and rosemary and left the stock simmering for around 3 to 4 hours. Taste for seasoning and strain. Once it's cooled, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days or freeze it.

I bought a selection of wild mushrooms from my local greengrocer. I'm not brave enough to go foraging myself. One mushroom mistake can send you straight to A & E, so I'd definitely leave it to the experts here.

Approx 25 g/ 1 oz butter
A splash of olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500 g/ 1 lb 1 oz wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced if large
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 pint fresh chicken stock (see above)
1/4 pt white wine
A splash of single cream
salt and pepper

Place the oil and half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and fry until soft. Add the mushrooms and toss them in the buttery pan juices and fry until soft and golden. Generously season and once most of the mushroom juices have been released and cooked off, add the white wine and thyme and reduce by half. Add the chicken stock and reduce by half again. Fish out the sprigs of thyme and add a splash of cream. Check the sauce for seasoning and spoon some over your antelope steak.

Asparagus

When serving asparagus as a side vegetable, I don't think you can beat a simple steaming. To cut off the woody ends at the right spot, let the weight of your knife fall on to the end of the asparagus and move it up the base until it cuts through easily. Alternatively, you can peel the ends, but it's a bit more of a faff. We have an asparagus steamer because we eat as much of the stuff as we can fit into our pie holes in its brief but glorious season. So, it makes your wee smell a bit like wet dog. And? AND it tastes so delicious, wet-dog-wee seems a perfectly reasonable price to pay. Just hold your breath and get on with it. If you don't have a special steamer, place the asparagus in a shallow frying pan of boiling water and simmer gently until tender, but still firm (about 5 -7 minutes, depending on thickness). Remove them from the pan, shake off the excess water and serve simply with seasoning and a knob of butter or a drizzle of olive oil.

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