The Ivy’s saddle of Scottish venison with mashed beetroot and elderberries
The saddle is a very tender cut of venison. You can roast it on the bone, but as the eye of meat is generally so small, a few minutes in a pan is all it really needs. Elderberries are not normally available in the shops, so you'll need a nearby tree! They should be ripe around now, probably earlier than usual this year. Otherwise you could replace them with redcurrants or any other small berries. Since you're mashing beetroot, you may want to look for larger beets.
4 venison saddle fillets, approximately 150g each, trimmed
½ glass of good red wine
6 juniper berries, crushed
A few sprigs of thyme, chopped
A splash of vegetable oil
For the sauce
150ml beef or game stock
For the mashed beetroot
250g raw beetroot
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
The day before you wish to serve the venison, place the saddles in a stainless-steel or china dish with the wine, juniper and thyme and cover with clingfilm. Leave to marinate overnight. The next day, place the beetroot in a saucepan, cover with water and add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they are soft. Drain in a colander and leave to cool. After about 15 minutes rub off the skin with your hands (a pair of rubber gloves is useful protection against staining). Return to the saucepan, coarsely mash with a potato masher and add the butter. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Put to one side.
Remove the venison from the marinade, pat the fillets dry on some kitchen paper and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, putting the left over marinade to one side. Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan and cook the fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium rare, or a few minutes longer for medium. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets. Leave to rest on a warm plate to catch the juices. Meanwhile, put the marinade in a saucepan and boil it rapidly until it has reduced to about a tablespoonful. Add the stock and any juices from the cooked venison that will have seeped onto the plate, and simmer for a few minutes or so until it thickens. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve and return to the pan, adding the elderberries and butter, and stir well until the butter has emulsified into the sauce.
Reheat the beetroot and spoon into the centre of the plate. Slice the venison into 4 or 5 pieces and arrange on the beetroot, and finish with the sauce.