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James Lowe's fallow deer loin with red cabbage and quince

Quince and red cabbage provide the perfect tart accompaniment to this rich and gamey venison dish, by Lyles' chef James Lowe
Andrew Montgomery

Fallow deer is ideal for the home cook. Out of fallow, roe and red deer, roe deer has the mildest flavour and is the smallest, so requires more precise cooking. Red deer is the largest of the three and has the strongest flavour. In my opinion, fallow loin from a buck or a doe at this time of year will have the best balance.

It is not just breed and size that affects the flavour – other factors are the age of the animal, the cut, the sex and when it was killed. For example, a red stag during mating season will be the most powerfully flavoured of the lot. I love the combination of red cabbage and quince so much that we have served this by itself at the restaurant. If you hold back a couple of quinces and purée the rest, you can serve pieces of quince alongside the venison for a contrast in texture.


For the venison

2tsp juniper berries
10 peppercorns
1 bunch of thyme
1 clove of garlic
2tbsp vegetable oil
800g trimmed venison loin
1tbsp duck fat
40g butter
1 bay leaf

For the quince purée

1 pickled quince (see the recipe for pheasant with onion and pumpkin stew)
Splash of white wine vinegar

For the red cabbage

1 red cabbage
1tbsp vegetable oil
25ml white wine vinegar
  1. Method

    Step 1

    The day before, make the marinade for the venison. Lightly crush the juniper berries, peppercorns, 6 sprigs of thyme and the garlic in a pestle and mortar. Stir in the oil to form a marinade and rub it over the venison. Refrigerate overnight.

    Step 2

    To make the quince purée, blend the pickled quince with a little of the pickling liquid and a splash of white wine vinegar until you achieve a smooth purée – start with just the fruit and then add the liquid a little at a time. You are aiming for the consistency of ketchup.

    Step 3

    Heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/mark 4 and line a roasting tray with parchment. Cut the red cabbage into wedges
    – they should be about 6cm thick at the outside edge. Allow up to 2 wedges per person. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the wedges on one side until brown, then transfer them to the lined tray.

    Step 4

    Season the cabbage well with salt and all the vinegar, then spread the puréed quince over the red cabbage. Cover with 4 sprigs of thyme and bake for 10-15 minutes.

    Step 5

    To cook the venison, rub off the marinade and season the loin well with fine salt. Heat a heavy-based frying pan and add the duck fat, then the loin. You may need to cut it in half in order to fit it into the pan. Brown the meat all over.

    Step 6

    At this point, add the butter, the bay leaf and the rest of the thyme, and continue to baste and roll the meat in the pan. When the butter turns brown, remove the pan from the heat. By now, the meat should be done. To check, probe the centre of the muscle using a thermometer – it should be around 45-47°C.

    Step 7

    Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place until its internal temperature reaches 53°C (for medium rare). Slice the loin and serve with the cabbage.