4 venison shins (preferably roe deer)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
6 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
200ml/7fl oz red wine (preferably cabernet sauvignon)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 garlic bulb, halved horizontally
1 litre/2 pints venison stock (substitute beef stock if unavailable)
50g/2oz pearl barley, soaked in cold water overnight, drained
For the venison shins, season the meat well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the vegetable oil and sear the shins on all sides for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown all over. Transfer the meat to a flameproof casserole dish.
Add a splash of water to the pan used to sear the venison, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Pour the liquid over the venison in the casserole.
Return the pan to the heat and add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the finely chopped shallots and vegetables and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a further minute, then add the mixture to the casserole dish.
Place the casserole over a medium heat and add the red wine. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the liquid reduces to a thick glaze. Add the thyme, garlic, and venison stock to the casserole and bring it to the boil.
Cut a piece of greaseproof paper the same shape and size of the inside of the casserole. Place the paper over the shins in the casserole, cover with a lid then cook in the oven for 1½-2 hours, or until the shins are tender. (This process with ensure the meat remains moist as it cooks.)
Meanwhile, place the drained pearl barley in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Remove the shins from the pan and keep warm. Strain the cooking stock through a fine sieve, discard the solids and return the liquid to a clean pan. Simmer until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the cooked pearl barley to make a sauce.
For the venison cutlets, preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
Season the racks with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large frying pan until hot, add the vegetable oil and sear the venison racks for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden-brown all over. Add the butter to the pan along with the sprig of thyme. When the butter is melted, spoon the butter over the racks.
Transfer the venison racks to a large roasting tray, pouring over the butter and juices from the frying pan. Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes (for medium rare), or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/250F/Gas 4.
For the dumplings, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and allow to cool slightly, then peel and pass through a potato ricer or mash with a potato mashers. Return the mashed potatoes to a clean pan and gently heat to drive off any excess moisture, stirring frequently until the potatoes no longer stick to the sides of the pan.
Bring the water to the boil, add the butter and a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat, then add the flour all at once, mixing vigorously until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Return to the heat to dry out the mixture slightly.
Crack in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition until the mixture comes together to form a wet and slightly sticky dough.
Mix the potatoes and the dough together in a bowl, using a ratio of one-third potato with two-thirds dough. Mix in the shredded spinach and season with nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Half-fill a heavy-based pan with vegetable oil and heat to 180C/350F, checking the temperature with a digital thermometer (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended). Pinch small pieces from the dough and carefully drop into the hot oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the dumplings puff up and turn golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining dough. (Any unused mixture will keep, covered, for a couple of days in the fridge.)
For the creamed black kale, heat a pan until hot and add the butter. Fry the shallots, garlic and pancetta for 2-3 minutes, or until the shallots are tender. Add the kale and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until tender, then stir in the cream and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the parsnip purée, place the parsnips in a large pan and cover with the milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat immediately and simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until tender.
Drain the parsnips and transfer to a food processor. Add the butter and blend until smooth, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, reheat the venison racks and shins in the oven for a few minutes if necessary. Carve the venison racks between every second rib bone, so that there are two bones per portion. Spoon the creamed kale onto each serving plate and top with a piece of venison shin. Spoon the parsnip purée alongside. Arrange the venison cutlet on the other side of the shin and place the potato dumplings alongside. Spoon over the pearl barley sauce.
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