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Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt, and Celery Root Purée

by Florian
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Arctic Cuisine - Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt and Celery Root Purée

In my recent post on the Murmansk restaurant scene, I reviewed my meal of Arctic cuisine at Tsarskaya Okhota restaurant. One of the dishes I tried was reindeer heart with spelt, and while it’s unclear whether it was made with reindeer or another kind deer, and whether the spelt was really spelt or farro, I was impressed by the very tender heart meat, served with a lingonberry sauce and a celery root purée of sorts. The execution of the dish might have been a bit funky (I still haven’t identified everything that was on my plate), but I think this is a combination that highlights some key flavors of Arctic cuisine without falling into cliché, and for this reason it’s worth re-creating here.

My recipe retains all the elements of the original dish:

  • Venison heart, cooked sous-vide and quickly seared for maximum tenderness.
  • Lingonberry sauce, made with just a bit of sugar to balance the strong acidity of the berries.
  • Celery root purée, with a touch of lingonberry to reproduce the pink hue of the original at Tsarskaya Okhota.
  • Cooked spelt. Warning: spelt is a very chewy grain (some people euphemistically talk about its al dente quality); if you don’t like that, try using farro instead.

I realize that you won’t have most of those ingredients in your fridge or pantry, but they can be easily acquired online. Venison heart (along with many other excellent venison and wild boar cuts) can be purchased here. Frozen lingonberries are available here. Spelt can be found on Amazon, or you can replace with more readily available farro.

Ideally you’d drink a shot of deer antler vodka with that. I haven’t seen any for sale outside of Russia, but on the other hand, deer antler extract is easy to find online, so you could just make your own! Perhaps I’ll try my hand at it in a future post.

Arctic Cuisine - Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt and Celery Root Purée

Celery root purée
Yields 4 servings

70 g chicken stock
260 g peeled celery root, sliced
50 g lingonberries
80 g heavy cream
2.5 g salt
15 g butter

  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce the chicken stock by half.
  • Place the stock, celery root, lingonberries, heavy cream, and salt into a sous-vide pouch, and cook in a 85 C / 185 F water bath for 90 minutes.
  • Transfer the contents of the pouch to a blender, add the butter, and blend on high speed for at least 1 minute to obtain a perfectly smooth purée. Transfer to a container and reserve.
Arctic Cuisine - Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt and Celery Root Purée

Lingonberry sauce
Yields 4 servings

100 g lingonberries
175 g chicken stock
40 g sugar
1 clove
1 g lemon zest, grated

  • Place the lingonberries, chicken stock, sugar, clove, and lemon zest into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
  • Discard the clove, transfer to a blender, and process on high speed until smooth. Pass through a chinois, and reserve.
Arctic Cuisine - Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt and Celery Root Purée

Cooked spelt
Yields 4 servings

150 g spelt berries
salt
2 g thyme springs, tied with twine
60 g shallots, small dice
30 g butter
black pepper, ground
40 g chicken stock

  • In a small saucepan, cook the spelt in salted boiling water with the thyme for about 50 minutes, until tender. Discard the thyme, drain, and reserve.
  • In the same saucepan, sauté the shallots in half of the butter until golden brown.
  • Add the cooked spelt, chicken stock, and remaining butter to the saucepan with the shallots. Keep warm over very low heat.
Arctic Cuisine - Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt and Celery Root Purée

Sous-vide venison heart
Yields 4 servings

about 450 g cleaned venison hearts, butterflied
60 g butter
0.5 g thyme sprigs

  • Remove all the veins, tendons, and silverskin from the hearts. (You might find some of the silverskin easier to remove after the sous-vide cooking step, just don’t forget to do so!)
  • Place the butterflied venison hearts between two sheets of parchment paper, and press under a weight (such as a saucepan filled with water) for 15 minutes to further flatten them.
  • Transfer the hearts to a sous-vide pouch, together with the butter and thyme. Vacuum seal and cook in a 62.5 C / 145 F water bath for 90 minutes. Keep in the water bath until you’re ready to proceed with assembly.
Arctic Cuisine - Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt and Celery Root Purée

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

sous-vide venison heart
salt
canola oil
celery root purée
lingonberry sauce
black pepper, ground
cooked spelt

  • Take the hearts out of the sous-vide pouch, reserving the cooking liquid in a bowl, and season with salt. Heat some canola oil in a very hot pan, and quickly sear the hearts on both sides until colored. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for a minute.
  • Reheat the celery root purée and lingonberry sauce in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Reheat the cooked spelt in its saucepan if needed.
  • Slice the venison hearts on a bias, then dip the slices in their reserved cooking liquid and season with salt and pepper.
  • Dividing each plate or bowl into three sectors, fill one sector with celery root purée, one with cooked spelt, and one with slices of venison heart topped with lingonberry sauce. Serve!
Arctic Cuisine - Venison Heart, Lingonberry Sauce, Spelt and Celery Root Purée

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