There is nothing more pride-provoking than being asked to showcase the excellence of our local produce to visiting colleagues from across the world.
On a recent occasion I was invited to do just that to a small but impressive group of chefs from Germany on behalf of the Alliance Group. The brief was simple - lamb and venison - "we will leave the menu to you, Hawksy, perhaps a salad?".
I have mentioned in the past the modern trend these days is the revival of salads which have been claimed in some areas as the "new main course". There could be no better way to present our finest locally produced lamb and venison than on a modern style salad.
The Alliance Group Development Centre at our local Lorneville plant was the venue for the "live" presentation/lunch - the perfect setting to introduce these high end chefs to just how much effort goes into ensuring the perfection of the product.
This is where the development centre "struts its stuff". Trials are continually taking place including tenderness, succulence and flavour tasting, aging of product during transport, development of "value adding" to products and how to produce perfection to the end user (us humble cooks) at the purchase end.
There are several links in the chain that guarantees the end consumer perfection when it comes to a quality eating standard of New Zealand's primary produce and the Alliance Group takes time to ensure each one of those links is fully informed of customer requirements through quality control from farm management, transportation, primary and secondary processing, aging and delivery of product, giving confidence in the brand 'Pure South'.
PAN COOKED VENISON NOISETTES ON OVEN ROASTED BALSAMIC MUSHROOM SALAD
For 4 portions
For the salad:
100g Swiss brown mushrooms
100g portabello mushrooms
100g button mushrooms
100g chunky, smoky bacon (I used the end bits which work well)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp balsamic glaze
For the venison:
600g Pure South venison tenderloin (or fillet), giving you 12 pieces
12 slices streaky bacon or prosciutto
A drizzle of olive oil
For the spinach:
200g clean fresh spinach leaves
sea salt and fresh black pepper
Method: Mushroom salad
Roughly chop the mushrooms and place in a roasting dish along with the bacon ends.
Mix well with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a generous grinding of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C and roast for 20 minutes, stirring on occasions.
Remove from the oven and keep warm.
Trim the venison tenderloin or fillet of any silver skin and slice into 2cm thick pieces.
Wrap each piece with a slice of streaky bacon or pancetta.
Heat a heavy based cast iron pan up to temperature until the pan is hot.
Drizzle the venison noisettes with the oil and place into the hot pan, sealing on each side for 1 minute.
Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and once cooked for a minute on each side remove from the pan and leave to rest in a warm place.
Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and add the spinach, toss for a few seconds until wilted, season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt and turn off the heat.
To assemble: Place the mushroom salad in a pasta type bowl and top with the spinach.
Drizzle with balsamic glaze and place two noisettes of venison on top.
Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/Bainfield Rd roundabout.
- The Southland Times