Venison and Confit Onion Rissoles with Artichoke Mash

Oooh arrr I love a good meatball. In fact, there are no less than 3 variations of them with different mince, herbs and spices in my cookbook.

Rissoles are essentially meatballs shaped into a small croquette shape, instead of being round. The different is minimal, but the temptation to call it something that sounds fancy (as so many chefs do) was all to tempting.

If I am honest, I rarely find myself eating meat in the week. However every now and then, on the rare occasion, when the sight of takeaway pret boxes gets all to depressing, I will spoil my housemates and get a proper dinner on the table.

This recipe is a real favourite and an adaptation of the venison faggots, that I used to make which I worked in Michelin starred pub, the Harwood Arms. (The best place in London for proper British grub!) Their rissoles are swirled with sweet slow cooked onions, soft prunes and mace and make the most comforting dinner dish anyone could how for on a cold winters day. I remember the smell of it all to well as I washed it from my hair (yes I did wear a hairnet, who know how it got there) after making the weekly 5 kilos of the mixture in a cauldron so large it would have made a perfect hiding place for hide and seek. It was not a highlight of my cooking career. This is a simplified version, Which I served at my Naked Festive Feast pop up made with a combination of lean venison mince and finely chopped chicken livers, (for sweetness) with paired back spices that are all easily assessable.

Tess Ward's Naked Festive Feast Supperclub Vennison meatballs with prune jam and artichoke puree

I know this recipe might look like a lot to do, but I promise you it is simple. The trick is to start with the confit onions. Whilst they are cooking move onto the mash. This can also be made ahead and reheated, then you can work on the meatballs and finally the gravy. If time is of the essence and you are planning this as a week night supper, I recommend making the confit onions and shaping the meatballs the night before. Then all you have to do is make the mash and sauce and you are in business.

I like to eat the flavour of the rich venison meatballs with the Artichoke mash, (it is a seasonal favourite this time of year in my Riverford Veg box,) but you could go for another lower carb mash like celeriac, or a carrot and parsnip mix if you don’t like artichokes or can’t get hold of them. I do feel somewhat obliged to warn you that artichokes do have a tendency to stir up a little wind in the pipes, so if this is a date night dinner, maybe opt for celeriac instead. It will still be low carb, high protein, crispy meatball perfection. Totally filthy sexy healthy.

Venison and Confit Onion Rissoles

Serves 4-6 (larger portions than photographed)

  • 2 onions
  • 1 cap of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbs chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 450g venison mince
  • 150g chicken livers, finely chopped
  • 50-75g gluten free breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs olive oil, or goose fat
  • 1 heaped teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons spiced prune jam (I have included my recipe for spiced prune and bacon jam below)

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Finely slice and slow sweat the onions for an hour, over the lowest flame of the smallest hob. Add a small dash of white wine vinegar to the pan whilst cooking. You can make up a big batch of this with 8 or 10 onions and save it in a jar in the fridge to have with grilled meats, sausages, burgers or to use in sauces during the week. Whilst the onions are confiting, make the jerusalem artichoke puree. (Recipe below)

Once the onion is confited, add it to a large bowl with the remaining rissole ingredients and mix well. Shape the mixture into 12-14 meatballs.

Heat a large frying pan on a high heat. Add a dash of oil to the pan and cook the meatballs in batches, until they golden. They will need 10-12 minutes in the pan. Once cooked, set aside in a warm place. In the oven on its lowest setting is good.

Venison and Confit Onion Rissoles with Artichoke Mash

Jerusalem Artichoke Puree Recipe

Serves 4-6

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 40g butter
  • 50–80ml water
  • 1 good quality chicken stock cube


Peel Jerusalem artichoke and place in a bowl of lemon water to stop them discolouring and oxidising.

Drain away the lemon water and place the artichokes in a large saucepan. Cover over with water, thyme and salt to taste and bring to the boil. Cook in the water until the artichokes are soft and easily breakable with a fork. Strain off 3/4 of the liquid, remove the thyme and place the cooked artichoke and butter with a little of the cooking water and the stock cube into a blender. Blitz until combined. You can adjust the consistency by adding more stock.

To finish, season with salt, add a squeeze of lemon juice and black pepper to taste.

Venison and Confit Onion Rissoles with Artichoke Mash

Red Wine Gravy

Serves 4-6

  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf and few thyme sprigs
  • 75ml port
  • 250ml red wine
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 1 tbs white spelt flour (optional)

To make the sauce, place the used meatball frying pan back over a medium flame. Add the onion and olive oil. Sweat for 10 mins until the onion starts turning translucent then add garlic, bay and thyme. Cook for a further minute or two, then splash in the port. Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any debris from the bottom and bubble the liquid until almost completely reduced. Pour in the red wine and continue with the pan over the heat to reduce the liquid by three-quarters before adding the stock. If the mixture isn’t thickening, you can add a tablespoon of flour to thicken. Bring the sauce to the boil and season to taste. Finally, pour the gravy through a sieve into a warm jug.

Venison and Confit Onion Rissoles with Artichoke Mash

Spiced Prune and Bacon Jam

Makes 1 large jar

  • 550g prunes
  • 150g smoked bacon lardons
  • 100g cup coconut sugar or unrefined dark muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • 1 Lemon, juice

Sweat the bacon. once cooked and soft, add the prunes, along with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup lemon juice, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer the prunes for five minutes. Remove from heat and add sugar and spices. Mix thoroughly and return to heat, bringing the mixture to a boil again.

Boil hard for one minute, stirring continuously and then remove from heat and add another 1/2 cup water. leave to cool slightly then blitz until smooth but with a few chunks.

Place into a sterilised jar.


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