This recipe is all about the turnips, small purple turnips that we get in spring and are called “meiraapjes” in Dutch. They look very pretty with their nice purple color, which unfortunately will be gone once you have peeled them. These turnips do not only look like radishes, but also the flavor is like radishes as they are a bit peppery. The nomenclature is very confusing in Dutch, because koolraap, knolraap and koolrabi are all something different:
- turnips are these small purple ones, called meiraapjes or knolraap in Dutch or navet in French, Brassica rapa subsp. rapa in Latin
- rutabaga are larger Swedish turnips, also called swedes, and koolraap in Dutch, Brassica napus subsp. rapifera in Latin
- kohlrabi are German turnips that aren’t purple but light green, koolrabi in Dutch, Brassica oleracea in Latin
Turnips are the most ‘elegant’ in flavor of the three, and rutabaga the least elegant. For this recipe, you could substitute turnips with kohlrabi but I wouldn’t recommend substituting with rutabaga.
In this recipe, the turnips are sautéed with pancetta and peas, and the combination of the sweet peas with the peppery turnips and the salty pancetta works very well. Here this is served as a side to venison steak, but it would also be a great side to beef or lamb.
For the venison I used a venison blade steak, which is cheaper and has more flavor than a regular venison steak. I cooked it sous-vide using the technique of warm aging I developed to make it more tender. If you don’t have sous-vide equipment, you could cook the venison steak in another way as well.
For 2 servings
300 grams (.66 lb) turnips
150 grams (1 cup) small peas (frozen is fine)
40 grams (1.5 oz) pancetta, small dice (or bacon)
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
300 grams (.66 lb) venison (blade) steak
120 ml (1/2 cup) venison stock, reduced to 60 ml (1/4 cup)
60 ml (1/4 cup) red wine
3 Tbsp clarified butter (or olive oil)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season the venison with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides, and vacuum seal.
Cook sous-vide for 1 hour at 39.5C/104F.
Then, increase the temperature to 49.5C/121F, and cook for another hour.
Finally, increase the temperature to 55C/131F, and cook for 4 hours. If using a more tender cut of venison than blade steak, you could omit cooking it at 55C/131F, or for a shorter time (1 hour).
Heat a tablespoon of clarified butter (or olive oil) in a frying pan, and add 40 grams of diced pancetta. Cook over medium heat until the pancetta is golden and a lot of fat has rendered from it.
Meanwhile, peel the turnips, remove the stems, and cut them into smallish pieces.
When the pancetta is golden, add the turnips and season with salt.
Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the turnips are golden, and tender but firm to the bite.
Add the peas and stir until they are also tender but firm to the bite. (When using frozen peas, this will only take a couple of minutes.)
Take the venison out of the sous-vide. There will only be a small amount of juices in the bag, so it is not worth using them for the sauce.
Pat the venison dry with paper towels.
Brown the venison quickly over very high heat in two tablespoons of clarified butter (or olive oil, but the clarified butter splatters less and browns better).
When the venison has been browned on both sides, wrap it in aluminum foil and allow to rest while you finish the sauce.
Discard most of the fat in the frying pan, then deglaze with 60 ml of red wine. Scrape with a wooden spatula to get any browned bits attached to the bottom of the pan into the sauce.
Add 60 ml of concentrated venison stock (which I keep in cubes in my freezer).
Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce has a nice consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add a tablespoon of minced parsley to the vegetables, and stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Slice the venison and serve it with the sauce and the vegetables on the side, on preheated plates.
Acqua Pazza (which literally means “crazy water”) is a dish from Campania, the region of Naples. It can be either a primo piatto or a secondo piatto. As a secondo, it is fish cooked with cherry tomatoes. As a primo, it is pasta with fish and cherry tomatoes. I don’t have a clue why it is called crazy, but it sure is delicous.