Mississippi-born chef Brad McDonald first fell in love with wine at college in the United States. While visiting France for the first time as a student, he developed a passion for the wine he chose for his appearance on The Wine Show.
Brad is currently at the helm of two of London’s most exciting restaurants: The Lockhart and Shotgun. Both specialise in food that typifies cooking found in the Southern States of the USA. Brad’s food is modern, seasonal American cooking. Contemporary and innovative, with classics including Gumbo, Cornbread with Honey Butter, Grilled Oysters, Pimiento Cheese, and Lemon Icebox Pie; it’s comfort food with a modern and urban edge.
Brad McDonald’s Wine Choice
Brad chose Nuits St George because it holds special memories for him. Having gone to France to study, on his first night in his new home in Burgundy, he was given a block of chocolate, a piece of Comte cheese and a bottle of Nuits St George made locally on the Cote de Nuits.
Joe’s Food- and Wine-Matching Notes
The wine Brad chose is a classic. Nuit St George is made from the pinot noir grape and is characterised by red fruits – strawberry and cherry when it’s young and becomes more leathery in flavour as it ages. Red Burgundies are hugely popular with chefs, largely because they are such great wines for food. This wine is particularly goodwith the venison that Brad cooked as it has enough strength to stand up to the distinct flavours in the venison, the sweet and sour nature of the persimmon and the savouriness of the coffee-infused stock.
Other good food matches for this wine
This would also work really well with roast lamb, grilled steak, duck or game such as pheasant or partridge. Also great with simple dishes like shepherd’s pie, macaroni cheese made with a strong cheese or even a roast chicken.
Brad’s Recipe: Venison in Red-Eye Gravy with Persimmons
In late autumn, wild persimmons begin to hit their ripening peak in the South. This takes place just as the deer-hunting season is opening up, so naturally the two make a great pairing on the plate. Cooking these ingredients together creates a transitional bridge between harvest season and the approaching winter.
Persimmons have to be fully ripe before eating, otherwise they are acrid and unpleasantly tannic. If you are fortunate enough to be able to pick your own, choose unblemished fruit that has fallen from the tree. The flesh should be squishy and the skin a little wrinkled. If all else fails, take a bite. There isn’t a grey area when it comes to the edibility of this fruit.
- 1kg (2 1⁄4lb) boned venison haunch
- 1 litre (1 3⁄4 pints) 5% brine
- 50g (1 3⁄4oz) lard or bacon fat
- 50g (1 3⁄4oz) unsalted butter
- A sprig of thyme
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 4 ripe persimmons, preferably a kaki variety, peeled and sliced into thin wafers
For the Red-Eye Gravy:
- 1.5 litres (21⁄2 pints) venison stock
- 20g (3⁄4oz) ground coffee beans, as for filter coffee
- 15g (1⁄2oz) unsalted butter 100g (31⁄2oz)
- Country Ham or serrano ham, diced
- Lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Put the venison in a dish, pour over the brine, then cover and leave in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight. Remove and pat dry.
- 2. Melt the lard or bacon fat in a large cast-iron frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the venison and sear until well coloured on all sides. Transfer to an oven heated to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and roast for 8–10 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 52–53°C/125–127°F, turning the meat frequently. Remove from the oven and place on the hob. Add the butter, thyme and garlic to the pan and baste the haunch over a medium heat for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
- 3. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Boil the stock until reduced to 500ml (18fl oz). Remove from the heat, stir in the coffee and leave to infuse for 4 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the country ham and cook until lightly browned. Pour off the excess fat and add the reduced stock to the pan, stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Season with lemon juice and black pepper.
- 4. To serve, carve the venison against the grain and place on plates. Arrange the persimmon slices and pour over a little gravy. Serve the rest at the table.
- 1. Brining has many different applications in the kitchen but it’s certain that it can vastly improve your meat cookery. I generally use a standard ratio of 5 per cent salt to water. Meats can be brined for a short period of time to sea- son them before cooking or for a longer period if you are curing them. The time will vary from 20 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the size and cut you are using. Always rinse the meat thoroughly after removing it from the brine.
- 2. To prepare a 5 per cent brine, put 1 litre (1 3⁄4 pints) water in a pan with 50g (1 3⁄4oz) sea salt and heat gently, stirring until the salt has completely dissolved. Chill thoroughly before use. Adjust the proportion of salt if your recipe requires a different percentage.
Brad McDonald’s book Deep South
To put it in Brad’s own words, “Southern style cooking using the best British ingredients.”
Brad’s book Deep South: New Southern Cooking is published by Quadrille in June 2016.