A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go to Le Gavroche. Wow. An auction that my friend was putting on was being held there and she needed a couple of us to go along and help. When she disclosed the venue, I couldn’t believe my ears! Only the day before had I been speaking with a guy who spoke of his longing to go, and we had mused upon how much we loved Michel Roux Junior. He is such a brilliant chef, and for those of you who haven’t been tuning into his new show, I strongly recommend you do. For those of you who have, you’ll know what I mean!

Now. to the point. As well as working very hard(!!) we also were allowed to sample the delights of the evening. A champagne reception with utterly divine canapes, followed by a four course meal was, suffice to say, a little what I imagine Heaven to be like. Michel Roux Junior came out at the beginning of dinner and talked us through the menu, and it was lovely to see that he is there, at his restaurant  in the kitchen and producing his own brand himself, alongside the other chefs. It seems very family orientated. So, here was what we ate:

First starter
Lobster with Celeriac Remoulade and squid ink

Second Starter
Pan fried sea bass with truffle mousse and pan fried parsley

Main course
Venison with Chocolate sacue, roast potatoes and carrots and red cabbage puree

Pudding
Nut brittle and Macadamia nut parfait with a pineapple crisp and raspberry sauce

SO. For the vension! Well, home for Easter and I decided that I would try and recreate this most delicious concoction….It was Thursday in the office, yet more chocolate sitting right there in front of me, and I had some. I was upset that, after two days of abstinence I had caved. TWO DAYS!! That can’t be healthy. The truth is, I am completely and utterly hooked. So I decided upon one thing. If I can’t beat my chocolate addiction, I am damn well going to embrace it! I will have chocolate every day for the rest of my life and if I feel like putting it in something that mightn’t usually have chocolate in it well hey, sue me!

I thought I would leave it until the first mouthful had been eaten, to tell my mother that, shock horror! She was having chocolate for a starter! Well…the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t taste all that much like chocolate at all. No, in fact it errs on the bitter side, but it is quite miraculous how, when tried separately and then with the venison, it is completely different. When the two are paired together it just…works. Obviously I didn’t have Michel Roux’s recipe, but I went all Google eyed and did some research, to gather the relevant key ingredients, and from there I winged it. The elements that I wanted to factor in though were these: chocolate, juniper berries and port. And that I did, along with various other goodies! The result was good, all in all a positive response, though there is always room for tweaking!

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Ingredients:
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 chicken stock cube
1 beef stock cube
1/3 cup Port
1/3 cup Grand Marnier
2/3 cup Red Wine
A palmful of juniper berries
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of paprika
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon thyme
The grated peel of one orange
A pinch brown sugar
1 teaspoon red current jelly
A teaspoon cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

Method:
Put all of the ingredients, apart from the cocoa and the chocolate, into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave for a while until it has reduced by a third.

When this is done, strain the contents through a piece of muslin. If you don’t have this, a sieve will do. Now, put back on the heat and add the cocoa and the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has melted. The chocolate will change the texture completely and it will look just like chocolate sauce, but the taste is quite extraordinary  Add salt and pepper to taste but don’t overdo.

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I used a small fillet of venison, seared the edges and then cooked in the top of the Aga for 10 minutes, leaving i to rest for five. I then sliced it into 1 inch thick medallions and served with parsnip puree, red cabbage, roasted carrot julienne and the sauce. It is best not to drench the venison in the sauce. Rather, put a little on and have the rest in a jug on the table so that everyone can decipher for themselves how much they want; the taste is very much each to their own!

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(Note – below is NOT my picture as I ran out of memory…my sister has it with her but I have yet to get it from her..this is taken from the internet..naughty..)

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