I've been meaning to take part in Belleau Kitchen's random recipes challenge for ages now, but somehow I never get round to it. I've even got as far as randomly selecting a recipe before, but then not got round to making it. Utter fail.
This month, however, was different. Inspired by the 'random local ingredient' theme of this month's challenge, I decided that I would definitely join in.
I chose to think about a local ingredient I could use first, because living in the middle of a city does sometimes mean that local products can be limited. Dominic used Lincolnshire sausage for his dish, but there's not really a similar iconic product for Coventry... But then I remembered about Charlecote Park venison, which would surely be in season at this time of year.
We used this as an excuse for a trip out to the aforementioned Charlecote Park on Sunday - a National Trust property quite near to us, which includes acres and acres of parkland as well as a house and gardens. Apparently, there has been a herd of deer in the parkland since the tudor period (presumably not the same herd...)
Despite the forecast for yet more torrential rain, it actually turned out to be rather pleasant on Sunday morning, and we very much enjoyed a walk around the park and gardens in the autumnal sunlight (particularly as we got to watch some deer as well), before heading to the Gatehouse Shop where we purchased some venison leg steaks for my random recipe.
I was also delighted that the plant and vegetable shop on site was selling a really very impressive array of squashes.
If I hadn't already have bought the venison, I would have bought one of these for my random recipe!
Anyway, local venison procured, I then had to choose a random recipe. I recently joined a website called Eat Your Books, which is like a catalogue of all your cookbooks, so you can search for ingredients and see which books have suitable recipes in them. I searched for venison amongst my cookbooks and the first recipe that came up was 'Rub-a-dub venison' from Caribbean Food Made Easy by Levi Roots (p. 88).
I hadn't cooked anything from this book in years, and yet it is a book which has some absolutely wonderful recipes in it, so I grabbed the opportunity to make use of it. I also thought it would be great to take a local ingredient and give it a Caribbean twist. The recipe involves marinating the venison steaks in a jerk rub - fairly easy to put together but you just need a little bit of time for it to marinate (a couple of hours or overnight). The blend of spices (allspice, ginger, chilli powder, thyme, garlic, all bound together with some oil) smelled wonderful, and promised good things.
Here are my steaks after marinating and about to go in the oven.
I followed Levi Roots's suggestion and made the Caribbean Mash to accompany the steaks, which is sweet potato, and a bit of nutmeg and allspice to season. I also steamed a bit of spinach as an extra accompaniment.
I was good and followed the instructions to make the steaks a bit rare, despite my tendency to overcook things! The steaks were delicious - very juicy (and really quite large!), and spicy and flavourful. The caribbean mash was great too - I loved the subtle hints of nutmeg and allspice.
So, I think we can say that my first random recipes challenge has been a success.
Now, if anyone has any ideas for what I can do with the leftover marinated and cooked steak, do let me know. I'm thinking maybe some kind of stew, perhaps?