Speyside is a place that I’ve always held dear, seemingly less rugged than the west coast where I spent most of my childhood holidays but at the same time majestic in its own way. I always loved coming to Coylumbridge to camp, the soothing sound of the river never out of earshot, cascading to the sea, the artery to so many distilleries that fascinated me even then. Seemingly endless hours walking round Loch an Eilein or gazing in wonderment at the Lairig Ghru, a huge valley carved out of highland rock where the weather could change in an instant from sunshine to blizzards. Speyside for me was all about natural beauty. Those memories have never left me, learning all about Scotland’s native species and the respect they should be shown, this dish celebrates the wonderful natural larder we have in this idyllic region so famed for its whisky, using ingredients all sourced and bought within a few yards of the campsite I enjoyed so much as a youngster at Rothiemurchus.
Topside of venison with rowan and whisky
800g-1kg red deer venison topside
2tsp rowan jelly
2 cloves garlic cut into quarters
2 sprigs rosemary cut into 2cm pieces
1 tsp sea salt
50ml whisky – Strathisla is a personal favourite but any Speyside or Highland whisky will be fine as long as not heavily peated.
300ml game or beef stock
Splash double cream
- Set oven to 180C. Rub 1tsp of rowan jelly and salt all over the meat then make shallow scores in the meat and insert the rosemary. Place the pieces of garlic under the string and place in a roasting tin.
- Roast for 45-50 minutes then test centre of the meat by which time it should be pink in the middle and browned around edges. Rest in foil for ten minutes or so.
- While meat is resting deglaze pan with the rest of the rowan jelly, whisky and stock, bringing to a high heat and reducing by about two thirds, adding back in the blood from resting.
- Add the splash of double cream to take the slightly bitter edge off the rowan and whisky. Carve and serve with the sauce.
Note: Don’t be put off a joint this size for only two people, as venison is perfect for stovies the next day (below).