Venison Saltimbocca, Ume Plum and Chocolate Sauce & Savory Tiramisu

venison-saltimbocca-ume-and-chocolate-sauce-and-savory-tiramisu-1All right, time to crank up the heat~ I know the name of this dish might have a slightly absurd ring to it, but believe me, seemingly outrageous combination aside, the components work deliciously well together! A savory Tiramisu like this crossed my path for the first time during a school excursion some odd years ago. The combination with a slow-smoked-and-braised wild boar seemed so insane, I just had to try it… not just because a classmate dared me to order it and promised to pay for it if I cleared the plate!

Well, the joke was on her, I even enjoyed the boar. Recreating the Tiramisu from my hastily scribbled down notes years later, however, was about as hard as convincing hubby to dig in. “Coffee? Chocolate? And… goat’s cheese?” Before he could ask the obvious follow-up question involving pickled cucumbers and banana ice cream, I took the chance to stuff his face with a spoonful of the proto-Tiramisu and watch a smorgasbord of emotions cross his features. He settled on “pleasantly surprised” and I went ahead with it. Here’s what I did~

These amounts will net you 2 servings:

The Tiramisu
Just on a sidenote, you will have to chill the Tiramisu for at least an hour before it’s ready to serve – which makes this one a perfect side dish to prep in advance. If you’re setting this up for the next day, chill the mixtures separately to keep them from soaking through. Oh, and… it’s easier to make than a classic, sweet Tiramisu~

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150g Goat’s Cream Cheese
30g Light Cream Cheese
A Pinch each of Salt, Pepper, Cumin and Nutmeg
25g Dark Chocolate, melted in a waterbath and cooled to room temperature
4 Coffee Beans
1 Bay Leaf
1 Pinch of Instant Coffee-Powder
½ or Birds Eye Chilli or ¼ Habanero, deseeded and very finely chopped
60ml Grapeseed Oil
200g Brussels Biscuits or any other double-baked bread, crushed into coarse crumbles
¼ Tbsp unrefined Cocoa Powder
½ Tbsp Chilli Powder

1) For the light layer, add ½ of the goat’s cheese, the cream cheese and a pinch each of salt, freshly cracked black pepper and cumin to a bowl and whisk until the spices are well blended in and the mixture turns smooth and slightly fluffy.
2) For the dark layer, add the other ½ of the goat’s cheese, melted dark chocolate and a pinch each of chilli powder, salt and nutmeg. Whisk this one as well, until the spices are evenly distributed throughout the mix.
3) For the coffee crumble, add the coffee beans and the bay leaf to a small pot set on medium-low heat. Pour in 30ml of grapeseed oil and leave the beans to infuse the oil for 10 mins. Take the pot off the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Place ½ of your bread crumbles in a small bowl, add the instant coffee and drizzle them with the coffee-infused oil after removing the swimmers. Lightly toss the crumbles to distribute the infused oil, then set the bowl aside.
4) For the chilli crumbles, heat the chopped chilli in the remaining oil and, just like you did with the coffee mixture, leave the lot to infuse for 10 mins before taking the pot off the heat and leaving it to cool down. Drizzle the remaining crumbles with the oil, add a pinch of salt and, again, lightly toss the contents of your bowl to distribute the seasoning.

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Ok, as you can see in my pics, I arranged the tiramisu in 2 different ways, once as a… well, classic Tiramisu, once in separate bubbles. The separate layers are visible evidence of me trying to get a better shot at taste-testing and combining the individual mixtures with the Saltimbocca, in an attempt at discovering things to tweak or ditch, rather than go with a-bit-of-everything on each bite. As it turned out, the everything-on-one-spoon tactic remains the way to go to beautifully round off the meat and balance the dish, though. If you don’t fancy awkward glass-on-plate arrangements, the bubbly style is a good alternative way of plating up.

5) So, pick a way of serving the Tiramisu and get to work, stacking the creamy layers on top of – or next to – the coffee crumbles. They will catch and soak up any moisture seeping out of the cheesy layers, keeping the whole deal from turning soggy.
6) Add the chilli crumbles as the top layer and sprinkle the servings with the cocoa and chilli powder.
7) Keep the Tiramisu chilled until you’re ready to plate up.

If this one is, as hubby eloquently put it “a bit on the Pro side of flavor combinations”, you could serve the Saltimbocca with a black-and-white rice blend mixed through with a sprinkle of raisins and toasted pine nuts – which is one of the usual side-dish suspects for our dinners involving game.
A simple bowl of lamb’s lettuce dressed with a walnut vinaigrette works deliciously well, too~

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The Saltimbocca

The Venison Saltimbocca is one of the always-welcome guests on our dinner plates, so I immediately thought of it when I was trying to figure out what to pair the Tiramisu with.
If you have a wonderful anything-game vendor within easy reach like we do, ask him for fillet steaks – since the fillet of a deer isn’t really something to be found on the large side of things, you’re going to need 2 pieces per serving, around 1,5-2,5cm thick. You might want to consider having one or two pieces extra, just in case seconds are in order, though~

4x 80-90g Pieces of Venison Fillet
4 Slices of Serrano Ham
4 small Sage Leaves
2 Tbsp Butter – This might seem a lot of butter for my usual MO, but the meat has a fat content sitting right next to “absolutely none”. It needs the buttery help to survive the pan.
2 Sprigs of Thyme
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
Salt and Pepper to taste

1) Pat the meat dry with a paper towel and place the pretties on your work surface.
2) Use the tip of a very sharp knife to cut a pocket into the side of each steak in front of you. Make sure not to cut all the way through the meat.
3) Lightly season the steaks on all sides, including the insides of the pockets. Go lightly on the salt, though, the Serrano will do most of that job on it’s own.
4) Speaking of… vertically lay the ham slices out on a cutting board and remove the fatty rims.
5) Place one sage leaf on the bottom end of each slice.
6) Have a look at the steaks, or more precisely, the size of your pockets. Fold the ham up in pleats, wrapping the sage leaf up in the folds as you go, up to a rectangle roughly fitting into the pockets.
7) Slide the ham packages into the pockets. Gently wriggle and nudge them into place – one hand, palm down, on top of the meat as a poke-though-safety-barrier of sorts.
8) Once the rims of your pocket close around the ham at a gentle pinch, you’re golden. You could tie up the meat with butcher’s string at this point if you’d like to hide the inner workings of your steaks.
9) Set a heavy-based pan onto medium heat and add the butter, garlic and thyme.
10) Add the steaks as soon as the butter starts turning a dark golden color and close the lid.
11) Flip them over after 1 min on the first side and give the other side a chance to catch up for 1 min as well – again, with the lid on.
12) Turn the heat to high, loose the lid and sear the steaks for 3 more mins, flipping them every 15-20 secs to get a nice crust on them.
13) While you’re not busy turning them from side to side, baste them with the infused butter in your pan.
14) And that’s it! 5 mins of quality pan-time is all these beauties need. Place them on a warmed plate and tuck them in to rest under a blanket of aluminum foil.
15) Keep the plate in a warm spot of your kitchen until the sauce is ready.
16) Don’t discard the remains of the roasting-party in your pan just yet, you’re going to need them for the sauce.
17) If you have an oven at your disposal, simply give the steaks a quick-sear in the pan, place them in a roasting tray, topped off with a knob of butter. Pop the garlic and the thyme into the tray as well and leave the lot to their own devices for 4 mins at 200°C.

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The Sauce
300ml Venison Stock – the same vendors or stores providing you with the venison fillets should have venison stock or concentrated broths for you as well
3 Tbsp Japanese Ume Plum Wine – if you can’t get your hands on that, you could replace it with a good  quality “regular” plum wine or simply go with White Port
10g Dark Chocolate, finely grated
Salt, Cinnamon and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste

1) Pour the stock into your pan – still sitting on high heat – and put your spatula to work, loosening and clouding up all of these lovely roasting aromas sticking to the pan.
2) Give the stock about 2-3 mins to work up a rapid bubble, then remove and discard the thyme and garlic.
3) Stir in a pinch of cinnamon and the plum wine or port, get it up to a boil again, then reduce the heat to medium.
4) Leave the liquids to reduce down to 1/3 of the original amount. This will take roundabout 4-7 mins.
5) Once the alcohol has poofed out of existence and the sauce has thickened a bit, have a taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and a crack of black pepper.
6) Turn off the heat and stir in the grated chocolate until it’s completely dissolved. Don’t worry, you wont end up with something you’d usually expect in a dessert – the chocolate just adds that little spark to the sauce, dots the i, if you will, and helps bind the sauce.
7) Gently place the steaks in the sauce and baste their surface with it.
8) Time to plate up~! Arrange the steaks on a plate, nestled up against your tiramisu or alternative side, drizzle them with the sauce and serve immediately.

Enjoy~!

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4 thoughts on “Venison Saltimbocca, Ume Plum and Chocolate Sauce & Savory Tiramisu

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