Monday, 27 September 2010

Smoked Venison with Cream Cheese, Horseradish and White Pepper

This is a heavenly combination: paper-thin smoked venison, fresh horseradish, cream cheese and white pepper, all bought together with a tart, sweet pomegranate reduction. Look, I know this recipe has some unusual ingredients - including pomegranate syrup, which I couldn't fit into the title - but I promise you won't regret the effort it takes to find them.

Smoked Venison Carpaccio with Cream Cheese, Horseradish and White Pepper
A sweet, tart pomegranate syrup brings everything together.
This is a quick and easy dish that is ideal for serving, with some biscuits or melba toast, as a snack with drinks. Use a good, full-fat cream cheese. I used Lancewood Cream Cheese, but Philadelphia, or similar, will do nicely. Whatever you choose, make sure the cheese is very thick, and stiff enough easily to hold its shape.

[Postscript, 2 September 2013: Do try this recipe using my drained maas (amasi) cheese!]

I think white pepper is a most undervalued and underused ingredient, with a marvellous flavour quite distinct from that of the ubiquitous freshly ground black pepper. It's quite a strong spice, though, so add just a pinch at a time, tasting the mixture as you go along.

I used fresh horseradish (see my latest horseradish recipe here, and tips for preserving it in olive oil, and freezing it, here) but you could, at a push, used the creamed, bottled variety (in which case use a little less olive oil).

Any sort of lightly smoked venison, sliced paper-thin like carpaccio, will do for this recipe: ask your butcher. I've also made this with smoked salmon and smoked beef.

Pomegranate reduction is available in good delis, and at Woolies.  If you can't find it, use a sharp fruit jelly, or a wine jelly, or any sweet, zingy sauce.

Smoked Venison Carpaccio with Cream Cheese, Horseradish and White PepperThe little leaves strewn on the top of this dish are mustard sprouts, but you can add any crunchy leafy topping of your choice.

Smoked Venison with Cream Cheese, Horseradish and White Pepper

one tub (250g) full-fat cream cheese
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh horseradish, peeled and very finely grated
½ tsp (2.5 ml) white pepper
about 2 tsp (10 ml) olive oil
salt, to taste
6 slices paper-thin smoked venison 'carpaccio'
a handful of mustard sprouts, or baby herb leaves
1 T (15 ml) pomegranate reduction
a little extra oil for greasing the mould

Put the cream cheese, horseradish and white pepper in a bowl and, using a wooden spoon, beat well to combine. Add just enough olive oil to to create a rather stiff, smooth mixture.  Season with salt to taste.

Lightly grease the inside of a ramekin dish, teacup or similar mould (capacity about 1 cup/250 ml) with a little olive oil.  Neatly line the mould with slices of venison, pressing it well into the sides and base and allowing the slices to overlap the edges by 4-5 cm. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the mould, and press down with the back of a spoon.

Fold the overlapping slices of venison over the top of the cream cheese, cover with a piece of clingfilm [saran wrap] and press down firmly to eliminate any air bubbles. Now turn the mould over into the cupped palm of your hand, and deliver a few smart smacks to its base.  If you can't release it, run a sharp knife around its edges. Slide onto a small clean plate. Trickle the pomegranate syrup over the base of the plate. Top with the mustard sprouts. Serve with biscuits or melba toast.

Serves 4 as a snack

Cook's Notes:

  • This keeps well in the fridge for a day. Cover it, still in its mould, with clingfilm, and add the sprouts and pomegranate reduction just before you serve it.
  • If you don't have a suitable mould, turn this into a 'sausage': lightly grease a piece of clingfilm, and cover with overlapping slices of venison. Spread the cream cheese, in a stripe, at the edge closest to you. Pick up the leading edge of the clingfilm and carefully roll, away from you, into a neat tube (as you would if you were making sushi rolls).  Twist the ends of the clingfilm to make a tight, narrow Christmas-cracker shape.  Place in the fridge for a few hours.  Remove the clingfilm and, using a very sharp knife or unscented dental floss (yes, really!), slice into neat discs.

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Nina Timm said...

Very beautiful and so elegant Jane. I think even Sam's smoked tuna or slamon can work here.
You and I must host some kind of function...we'll be a mean team!!

Claudz said...

This looks and sounds so lovely!! It's been added to my "must try" list

Marisa said...

You're quite the horseradish lover aren't you? :-)

This would make for a very elegant and more-ish starter - love the heart shape you molded it in as well.

Rose&Thorn said...

I totally agree with you, white pepper is very underrated, I love the flavour. This is a very impressive looking dish - I needed an idea for a dinner party starter, now I have one. Thanks:)

Joanne said...

This is something that I would never think to make (probably because I could never find smoked venison around here) but is absolutely making my stomach growl!

Juno said...

Thank you for these comments. Marisa, I am completely mad about horseradish. Joanne, whereabouts are you?

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PinkPolkaDot said...

This is really very stylish - I love it!!