Crab Apple Catering’s chef and owner Carl Thomson shows how this majestic winter dish uses the end result of their Deer For a Day course…
At one time, caterers were happy to reheat some grey-tinged vol-au-vents. Now they’re offering food of a quality and freshness that’s difficult to find anywhere else. Crab Apple are caterers who can. When it comes to their food, they make it, catch it, brew it or grow it themselves (or have friends who do) and are happy to show you how easy it can be.
As chef and owner Carl Thomson explains: “When we’re not stuffing our faces with tasty creations, we love to talk about food to anyone that will listen. We set up Crab Apple Catering to provide awesome food from Dorset, it’s all going wonderfully and we’re growing really fast – it’s scary, but in a good way.
We think winter is an excuse to be decadent, a chance to use just a bit more cream, butter and wine in the kitchen. Some people worry about over-cooking a Wellington but with a few simple pointers it can be easy to get this glorious creation just right.
Great venison is available for most of the year; we run hands-on ‘Deer in a Day’ courses which include butchery and preparation of loads of venison based delights. They’re really popular and we absolutely love them.”
500g trimmed loin of venison
250g mixed mushrooms
2 spring of thyme
1 roll of puff pastry
Pinch of salt and pepper
50g plain flour
Knob of butter
Browning the loin
Preheat the oven to 220oC. Lightly season the meat with salt and pepper, brown the venison loin in a warm frying pan. Remove and cool.
For the mushroom mix
Roughly chop the mushrooms into small pieces and fry in a knob of butter and a little salt and pepper over a medium heat, add some thyme after a few minutes (get rid of the woody stalks). Spread the mixture evenly over the pan and cook until the moisture has cooked out. Remove from the pan onto a clean cloth and cool.
For the savoury pancake
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth. Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat, add a little butter and then about half of the batter. Rotate the pan in a circular motion over the heat to completely cover the surface with the batter. Cook for about 45-60 seconds before flipping and cooking the other side – each side should be a pale golden brown. Remove from pan and leave to cool on kitchen roll to absorb any excess moisture. If you have a very long loin you may want to make two pancakes and lay them side by side.
Rolling the Wellington
On a flat clean surface lay out your puff pastry then place your pancake/s in the centre. Give your mushroom mix a last squeeze in the cloth to remove any remaining juices and spread evenly over the pancake. Place the venison in the middle of the mushrooms and gently wrap the pancake around the loin. The meat should now be encapsulated in an even layer of mushrooms held in place by the outer pancake.
Mix together an egg yolk with a splash of milk, brush all around the edge of the pastry which surrounds the pancake, this will act like glue when you fold the pastry over. Fold the side of pastry that is furthest away from you over the top of the meaty parcel and towards you. Pinch the ends closed and use the back of a knife blade or the prongs of a fork to press down the pastry all around the edge to create a tight seal.
Pop it in the fridge for five minutes to let it firm up. Place a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet onto a baking tray and place your Wellington carefully on it. Egg wash all the pastry you can see and gently score the top making sure you only cut the pastry, this will allow your Wellington to breath and release moisture. Place it in the oven on a middle shelf for approximately 25-30 minutes, the pastry should be golden brown and look crispy.
Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.