Fallow deer, pumpkin, passion fruit and smoked grand veneur

Mind to menu: Claude Bosi's venison

by Tom Shingler 15 January 2016

Claude Bosi tells us how he comes up with new recipes at his restaurant, and talks us through the thinking behind his seasonal venison dish.

Tom Shingler is the editor of Great British Chefs.

Tom Shingler is the editor at Great British Chefs. After studying journalism and working on national food magazines, he joined Great British Chefs in 2015 and has travelled the length and breadth of the UK to interview chefs and photograph their beautiful plates of food ever since. Tom is responsible for all the editorial output of the website and, of course, is obsessed with everything to do with food and drink.

As the head of a two Michelin-starred restaurant, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Claude Bosi’s food is incredibly complex, with hundreds of ingredients and impossibly difficult techniques. This is still true to an extent, but in the past five years Claude has refined his style and now focuses on just three or four elements on a plate, served simply. By using the very best produce and packing as much flavour into the dish as possible, he continues to wow his diners and hold two stars at Hibiscus.

But how does Claude come up with such brilliantly simple flavour combinations? Dishes need tweaking in the kitchen before they’re ready to be put on the menu, but it’s the original concept for a recipe that he enjoys thinking about more than anything else. ‘When I’m coming up with a new dish, I usually have one ingredient in my mind and try to spread it out to see what I can do with it,’ says Claude. ‘It’s actually really easy – you just have to know what’s in season to match the ingredients, then know your classics very well so you can balance the dish and incorporate different techniques. You just have to be honest with yourself and know what you can and can’t do. Sometimes I can even taste a dish in my head.’

However, it doesn’t always go to plan. ‘Sometimes things don’t work – it took me three years to fine tune a dish of sea urchin and mint, for example,’ says Claude. ‘We were using the wrong varieties of mint, not balancing it correctly and all sorts of other things, but it’s ready now and when it comes back into season I’ll be putting it on the menu. But there are other dishes which work instantly, like our prawns with curried buerre blanc and Oscietra caviar. That took five minutes to create!’

I’m a big believer that if things grow at the same time of year then there is a way to make them match.

Claude Bosi

Following the seasons is incredibly important to Claude, and during autumn and winter it’s his fallow deer dish which really encapsulates his approach to cooking. He combines the loin of the deer with the flavours of seasonal pumpkin and a classical sauce, which is where the idea for the dish originated. ‘I took a classic recipe – in this case, a grand veneur sauce – and thought about what it goes with, which is traditionally game and especially venison,’ he explains. ‘Venison also goes with dark chocolate, so I finished the sauce with that. I then try and think about the reasons why I like these flavours; I love the warmth and smokiness of game and autumn dishes, so I smoked the chocolate for the sauce, too, and added some pumpkin to keep it seasonal.’

There was something missing from the dish, however – Claude always tries to include some acidity in his recipes, to lift the flavour and balance everything out. He found the solution in a slightly unusual fruit. ‘In autumn you start getting access to the best passion fruit, so I tried that and it worked,’ he tells us. ‘I’m a big believer that if things grow at the same time of year then there is a way to make them match. Sometimes they don’t, but most of the time if a dish is balanced properly then they will work together.’

Of course, Claude’s incredible skill in the kitchen and using techniques such as cold-smoking and sous vide is what makes this a Michelin-starred dish. There’s a stroke of genius in the pomme soufflé, which sits on top of the venison; a thin slice of potato fried in oil at two different temperatures until it puffs up like a balloon. But the general idea behind Claude’s dishes – put ingredients together which are at their best at the same time of year – is enviously simple.

Fancy cooking Claude’s venison dish at home? Click the recipe below.