Venison, Sage and Walnut Polenta, Marrow & Bramble Jus Serves 6
For the sage and walnut polenta:
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the shallots, celery and leek for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the butter and when it is foaming, add the milk and 284ml (½ pint) of stock and bring to a simmer. Add the sage and shower in the polenta using a whisk to stir the whole time. Turn the heat under the pan to low – the polenta will bubble a lot and fire up hot polenta. Add the remaining stock and gently simmer. Don’t worry about sticking as this forms a layer to protect the rest of the polenta. Keep cooking the polenta, stirring every 5-10 minutes and adding stock when it looks dry, trying to get a risotto type consistency. After about 1½ hours check and adjust seasoning. When tasting you shouldn’t be able to feel the grains of polenta. Finish with the Parmesan and walnuts.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
For the marrow:
Season the marrow discs with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, then leave to stand for 30 minutes. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the discs on both sides until they have a nice golden colour. Place on a roasting tray, sprinkle with thyme branches, whole cloves of garlic and throw in a couple of knobs of butter. Roast for 8-10 minutes until soft, then scoop out the core and they are ready to go.
For the bramble jus:
Split the brambles (or blackberries) in half lengthways. Mix the sherry vinegar and water, add a generous pinch of salt and add the berries, making sure they’re all completely covered. Allow to steep for 1 hour minimum, but ideally overnight. To finish the jus, drain the brambles and add to a pan with 1 tbsp of the vinegar solution and the meat glace. Bring to a simmer.
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
For the venison loin:
Set a frying pan over a high heat and add oil. Season the venison loin generously, then seal in the hot pan on all sides. Place the sage branches in a roasting tray and sit the sealed loin on top, then place in the oven for 4-5 minutes (the core temperature of the loin should read 37-39°C on a meat thermometer). When ready, allow the meat to rest for 8-10 minutes wrapped in tin foil.
To finish the dish: Place the cored marrow discs on plates. Fill the hole with the polenta mix, place the carved loin on top, then drizzle the bramble jus over and around.