Now that autumn (or fall as our friends across the pond call it) is well on it's way, we thought it was time we shared some of our favourite venison recipes for our loyal Spartans. Our freezer's are getting full (or about to), and this is a great way to try out new recipes you wouldn't have thought of making! Let us know if you have any others we need to try.
At Spartan, we really try and experiment with our venison as much as we can. Straying away from your classic roast or a good venison pie can be a slightly daunting thought, but the beauty of venison lies in its versatility. It's a meat that takes change well, and variations in flavours really compliment it. Our very own Ellen has put a Chinese spin on venison (or a Spartan spin on gyozas) to create venison gyozas. These are the perfect choice to top a bowl of ramen, egg fried rice, or as a delicious starter.
Like pastry, it is easier to buy gyoza skins than make your own. However, doesn't the true enjoyment of a meal come from knowing how much hard work you put into it, and this is amplified by making the whole thing from scratch. Gyoza skins are remarkably simple to make, they're just a little fiddly and require concentration. Ellen tends to follow the Wagamama (a British staple restaurant) recipe for her skins which does the job well.
Start with sifting 240 grams of strong white flour into a large bowl. In a jug, pour in 120mls of freshly boiled water, and dissolve in ½ teaspoon of salt. Slowly pour the boiling water into the flour, stirring all the while. Eventually this will all come together and you will have a ball of dough in your bowl. If not, you can add a little more water, slowly, until bonded. Now - time to get your workout going - it's going to be about 10 minutes of kneading. Once you’ve got a smooth and stretchy dough, you’re there.
Divide your dough into two equal sized balls and roll into logs, about 4cm in diameter. Wrap these in clingfilm and rest for 30 mins. Once rested, dust your counter with cornflour, unwrap the dough and cut it into 12 equal sized pieces from each log. Place these on a plate with a damp tea towel on top. Take a piece of dough, roll it into a ball, press it flat, and then stretch out with a rolling pin in a circular motion, you should have a circle of dough about 9cm in diameter. TO create the perfect circle you should use a cookie cutter - 8cm is best. Dust another plate with cornflour and place your dough onto it. Continue until you have used up all the dough, and make sure you combine the extra scraps and use every part. Keep all of your ready rolled circles under the damp towel to prevent them drying out.
Now onto the filling!
We like to keep it pretty simple with our gyozas, and let the flavours and venison speak for themselves. Begin with gently heating about 3 cups of very finely shredded cabbage until it has wilted to half of its original size. Remove th4e cabbage from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Then, finely chop 2-3 spring onions, a couple cloves of garlic and about a thumb size piece of ginger, though you can choose how much you would like entirely. Add these to the cabbage along with half a tablespoon of soy sauce, ¾ teaspoon sesame oil and 180g/6.5oz of very finely ground venison mince. The finer the better, as you want them to be fully cooked. Massage the mix with clean hands until it is entirely combined. You want it to be slightly sticky.
Back to the skins - take one from under the towel and place one teaspoon of filling into the middle. With a wet finger (fill a small cup with water and keep it close) wet the outer rim of the skin. Fold the skin over the filling and pinch the edges together to close. There is a huge variation in styles and you can choose what suits you - just make sure the edges are together or the gyoza will split. Youtube has a great selection of videos to show you how to do this. Once you have used all the skins and mixture, pour a tablespoon of oil into a large non-stick pan on medium heat. In batches, cook your gyoza with the joined side facing up, for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is crispy. Once cooked, pour in ¼ cup/60ml of water and quickly put the lid on (use more water if needed). Let them steam for a couple of minutes and then remove the lid and let the bottom crisp up again. Serve hot with a dipping sauce - my favourite is a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, a finely chopped red chilli and spring onion.