Today’s dish is one of the reasons for Hubby and me to look forward to autumn after we had our fill of the summer sun each year – at least from a foodie’s point of view. As soon as quince season swings by some time between mid-September and early October, this is one of the first dishes on our dinner table to celebrate the occasion!
Hubby actually calls this his “favorite delicious yumtasticness in autumn”. I have nothing to add to that~ Here’s what you need for 4 servings:
The Spiced Quince Ragout
1 Large Quince, defuzzed, peeled, cored and sliced into thin segments – 1cm cubes work just just as well
1 Lemon – you’ll need 1 Tsp Juice and ½ Peel of Zest for the Ragout. Stir the rest of the juice into a bowl of water to keep the quinces from browning as you prep them
½ Orange, 3 Tbsp Juice and 2 Peels of Zest
40g Brown Sugar
30ml Quince, Apple or Pear Juice
30ml White Wine Vinegar
100ml Dry White Port
100ml Prosecco – if the quinces are a bit unripe
Alt: 100ml Dry White Wine – if the quinces are perfectly ripe – Riesling is an excellent choice for this
¼ Cinnamon Stick
1 Small Star Anise
8 Green Cardamom Pods
1cm Ginger, finely sliced
½ Vanilla Pod or 4-5 Drops of Vanilla Extract
¼ Tsp Ground Allspice
8 Black Peppercorns
1 Pinch of Hot Chilli Flakes
1 Generous Pinch of Salt
2 Tsp Cornstarch
1) Set a pot large enough to hold your quince slices or cubes onto medium heat and sprinkle in the sugar.
2) Once it’s melted and well on its way to turn a light brown around the edges, take a safety-step back and deglaze the caramel with the lemon and orange juices.
3) Stir the lot until nothing’s sticking to the bottom of the pot anymore, then pour in the apple or pear juice, port and prosecco.
4) Send the spices swimming in the liquid and allow the mixture to work up a gentle simmer.
5) Turn the heat down to medium-low and, stirring from time to time, give the spices about 5 mins to infuse the syrup.
6) Add the quinces to the syrup and leave them to simmer, soak up the spices and tenderize for 15-20 mins.
7) Pop a fine sieve on top of a second pot and pour the contents of the first pot through, catching the syrup in the pot beneath.
8) Turn the heat to high and allow the syrup to work up a merry bubble.
9) In the meantime, nudge your way through the quinces trapped in the sieve and hunt down the loose spices – just to be safe, count them before throwing them out.
10) Pick up a small bowl, add the starch and a bit of cold water and whisk the lot into a smooth paste.
11) Turn the heat beneath the syrup pot down to low and stir in the starch once the bubbly action has calmed down.
12) Leave the liquid to simmer for 2 mins, then gently fold in the quinces again.
13) Take the pot off the heat and set it aside until its contents have cooled off.
The Fruity Salad Dressing
4 heaped Tbsp Soft-dried Cranberries
1 Orange, Juice – rub 2 heaped Tsp of zest off of it and set them aside before juicing it
1 Tsp Orange Zest
1 Splash of Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Herbed Dijon Mustard – you could use simple Dijon and 1 Tsp of Herbs de Provence, ditching the Rosemary below
2 Tsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Mild Hazelnut Oil – make sure it’s not a strong one, otherwise your dressing might taste like liquid nougat, use walnut oil instead if in doubt
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 Shallot, very finely cubed
½ Tsp dried Rosemary
Salt, freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste
1) Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and have at it with a whisk.
2) Once everything’s well distributed and mustard and oils have emulsified into a glossy liquid, send the cranberries swimming in it.
3) Set the bowl aside until you’re ready to plate up, allowing the cranberries to soak up some of the dressing in the process.
The Hazelnut-Crusted Venison
150g Panko, broken down into smaller bits
50g Roasted Hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 Medium-sized Eggs
80g Self-Raising Flour
1 Tsp fine Orange zest – you can use the orange designated for the dressing for this
8 thin (around ½ cm thin) Slices / ~400g Saddle or Fillet Steaks of Venison
½ Tbsp Ground Venison Spices – If you don’t want to rely on unfamiliar store-bought blends, use the “teabag” spices listed in my Venison Steaks with Chestnut, Black Cherry and Chanterelle Ragout recipe over here and grind them into a very fine dust with a pestle & Mortar set
Ghee or Clarified Butter for the pan
Salt to taste
Opt: Chilled sparkling water
1 Clove of Garlic, bashed
1 Sprig of Rosemary
1 Sprig of Thyme – all 3 for the pan
1) Unless your butcher offers really thin slices of venison without robbing you blind for the extra effort, pick up a very sharp knife and, while gently pressing the steaks down with the palm of your hand, slice them into two with a horizontal butterfly-style cut going all the way through.
2) Place the resulting thin slices between two sheets of lightly oiled clingfilm and gently tap them down to a thickness of about ½ cm.
3) Time for the signature Schnitzel assembly-line! Place the panko crumbs, hazelnuts and a generous pinch of salt in a deep dish wide enough to comfortably accommodate the venison. Fork through the mixture to combine the lot.
4) Crack the eggs into a second, similar-sized dish, add the orange zest and beat the eggs until the orange dots are evenly distributed.
5) Sift the flour and the spices into a third dish and blend them together as well.
6) Set a large pan onto medium heat and add a generous dollop of ghee or clarified butter. Close the lid and allow the stuff to dissolve and heat up properly – the pan’s ready once a flake of panko starts to sizzle and dance right away when tossed in for a swim.
7) If you’re gunning for the extra-crisp on the crust, add another dish to the conveyor belt and pour in some sparkling water. A treatment with cold, mineralized water ahead of the breading-process will help lift the coat off of the meat when the lot comes into contact with hot oil. If you go down this road there’s two things to keep in mind:
- First of all, keep basting the side facing up with the hot butter in your pan, keeping it sizzling hot in order to avoid it turning soggy.
- Secondly, especially with a chunky breading like this one, hazelnuts and all, the crust might break and crumble on its way out of the pan onto the plates. It’s a visual thing more than a taste-related one, but a heads-up never hurts, right~?
8) Anyways, water or no water, as soon as the sizzle-test turns out as desired you’ll need to act quickly, so roll up your sleeves and start the show by turning the meat in the spiced flour.
9) Gently nudge it to remove any excess powder, then drag it through the eggwash until it’s evenly sticky and immediately cover it with the panko-hazelnut mixture without applying too much pressure. This crust is supposed to be a thin and really crispy one – if you’d go ahead and slap on as many crumbs as could possibly fit around the venison, it would turn rather thick and hard in the end.
10) Move the freshly coated steak into the hot pan – as usual, don’t overcrowd the pan~ if the heat drops too far, you’ll end up with a soggy, nutty omelet around the meat. I highly recommend going in batches of two on this one.
11) Allow the steaks to sit in the hot oil for about 2 mins until a careful lift-and-peek reveals a deliciously golden crust. Gently flip them over and give them another 1-2 mins on the second side.
12) While the second side is crisping up, baste the topside with a bit of the butter gathering beneath.
13) Line a large plate with paper towels and place the crispy steaks between the sheets to soak up the excess fat while you’re finishing up the rest.
Assembling the Dish
200g Lamb’s Lettuce or any blend of Lettuce Leaves you fancy
The Spiced Quince Ragout
The Hazelnut-Crusted Venison
The Fruity Cranberry Dressing
1) Toss the lettuce with the dressing and divide it onto 2 plates – hold back the cranberries for just a couple of blinks.
2) Dot the servings with the quince ragout and pop the dressing-soaked cranberries on top.
3) Arrange the crispy venison around the salad heaps and serve immediately~