Recipe of the month: The Merchants Tavern 

November 2, 2016

Loin of red deer with spiced red cabbage, button hole kale, braised red wine salsify, girolles and port sauce. Try this autumnal dish by Ronald Robson, head chef at The Merchants Tavern at St Peters Basin


Venison loin 

400g venison loin

50ml rapeseed oil

75g unsalted butter

Venison marinade

400ml red wine

200ml ruby port

1 carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

1 celery stick, diced

12 black peppercorns, crushed

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs of thyme

8 juniper berries, crushed

2 cloves of garlic

Port sauce 

500g chopped venison bones

100ml rapeseed oil

100g unsalted butter

50g chopped onion

50g chopped carrot

12 juniper berries

2 sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves

500ml venison marinade

500ml white chicken stock

500ml brown chicken stock

2 juniper berries, crushed

50ml red wine

Spiced red cabbage

1 large red cabbage, core removed

300g redcurrant jelly

150g brown sugar

2 tbsp five spice powder

3 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and finely diced

3 whole star anise

1 whole cinnamon stick

100ml eight-year-old balsamic vinegar

100g runny honey

2 tbsp crushed black peppercorns

Vanilla gastrique 

Zest of one orange

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole star anise

100g sugar

60g white wine vinegar

150g orange juice

1 vanilla pod

Glazed salsify 

2 long stems of salsify, washed thoroughly

300ml red wine

300ml brown chicken stock

2 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic

25g butter

100g blackberries


160g girolles, small

25g butter

Maldon salt

Button hole kale

1 button hole kale

Maldon salt 

White chicken stock

1 chicken carcass

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 carrot, roughly chopped

1 stick of celery, roughly chopped

1 sprig of thyme

1 bulb of garlic


* Bring the red wine to the boil and reduce by half, allow to cool. Bring the port to the boil and allow to cool. Mix the rest of the marinade ingredients together and pour over the venison loin and chopped bones. Allow to marinate for 12 hours. Remove the loin and bones from the marinade.

* Reserve the marinade to use as a base for the venison sauce

* Caramelise the venison bones in the oil and butter for around ten minutes until golden brown.

* Add the onion, carrot, juniper, thyme and bay leaves and cook for five minutes. Pour into a sieve to remove the excess fat, then return to the heat and add the venison marinade. Reduce by half and add the stocks, bring to the boil, skim and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, then return to the heat and reduce to required consistency. To finish the sauce, whisk in the juniper berries and red wine, allow to infuse for ten minutes and strain.

* For the spiced red cabbage, slice the cabbage very finely and combine with the rest of the ingredients and cook over a gentle heat for an hour until tender. Remove the whole star anise and cinnamon stick when cooked.

* Combine all the vanilla gastrique ingredients apart from orange juice in a pan and simmer until a light caramel colour. Add the orange juice and reduce until syrupy.

* Peel the salsify. Place into a container and cover with red wine. Leave to marinade for a minimum of 24 hours. When the salsify has taken on a deep purple colour, remove it from the marinade and keep to one side. Pour the wine into a large pan and reduce by two thirds add the brown chicken stock, thyme, bay and garlic and bring to the boil, add the salsify and simmer for five to ten minutes until tender. Season to taste, to finish add the vanilla gastrique and fresh blackberries while the liquor is simmering.

* Add the 25g of butter to a sauté pan for the girolles. Allow to foam, then add the girolles. Cook gently, without colouring, and season with a little Maldon salt. Remove from the heat.

* For the button hole kale, separate the leaves, wash thoroughly in cold water and drain, then season lightly with Maldon salt. Set aside until needed. Deep-fry the raw kale at 180°C for one minute (be very careful when dropping the raw kale into the hot fat, as it will spit). Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and top the stew with the crispy kale.

* Put the chicken carcass, vegetables, herbs in a large pot, and fill with water until all the ingredients are just submerged.

* Bring to the boil, and then simmer, uncovered for three hours. Top up the water if necessary. Chicken stock should be simmered, not boiled. Boiling emulsifies the fat, and creates a cloudy, flat-tasting stock.

* Skim off any discoloured foam from the surface throughout cooking.

* Remove the carcass from the pot, use a slotted spoon to scoop out other bones and vegetables then strain the stock through a fine sieve.

* Combine all of the elements on a plate and serve

The Merchants Tavern
1 St Peters Wharf, Newcastle
0191 597 1212