Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

A Venison Epic

on January 2, 2011

We thought as we were in Scotland that we’d get some venison, as it’s fresh and hung properly.  And although it wasn’t cheap, it was definitely worth it.  It was so delicious, not really strong or too gamey.  I would say it was a bit like lamb…but a bit richer perhaps.

Venison is a very lean meat, with very little fat, so it’s great if you’re watching the calories.  In fact, both the dishes we made with the venison are pretty healthy recipes.  Of course, if you’re watching the weight you wouldn’t roast your potatoes in goose fat like we did.  The recipe book with the roast venison actually suggests mashed potatoes, which are relatively  low in calories providing you use margarine and milk and not butter and cream in them.

I loved both these dishes.  They’re both completely different, but both were really delicious.    First we roasted a haunch of venison on the bone, after marinading it in spices and alcohol for 3 days, then with the leftover meat we made venison stew a couple of days later.  Because the meat was already marinated we left this part of the recipe out.  I picked this recipe because it didn’t have strong flavours of its own so the original marinade flavours would be retained and not confused.

The spices aren’t all the most obvious ones, and might take a bit to source them but most large good supermarkets should have them, or you can always turn to the internet.  They are definitely worth the effort to find.

We made the stew for new years eve – to line our stomachs and fill us up before our big night out.  And it was a totally epic night with all kinds of craziness, so the stew was very much needed.  We’d had enough of potatoes by this point so we had it with rice, but it would be nice with boiled potatoes or chunks of homemade bread, or even dumplings.

For the roast we, have, as has been our mainstay whilst in Scotland, the Hairy Bikers to thank and their 12 days of Christmas book.  This is a fantastic recipe, especially for a special roast meal.  And the chestnuts with bacon go with it so well.

For the stew recipe, I found this on a lovely blog by an English lady that’s gone to live in the US with her husband and raise various rare farm animals.  Most of the blog isn’t about food at all, but she said she always got rave compliments when she makes this stew so I decided to give it a go.  And she’s right, it is worth raving about, even though I didn’t use her marinade.  But the original marinade isn’t miles different from hers.  If you want the original recipe you can find it here http://poppycreekfarm.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/woodstove-venison/

The recipes here are as I did them, although the roast venison is pretty much as the Hairy Bikers have it.

Roast venison on the bone

Serves 6 – 10 (depending on how hungry you are!)

2.75kg/6lb venison haunch on the bone (the bone gives it lots of lovely flavour)

4 tbsp oil (we used olive)

100g streaky bacon or pancetta cut into small pieces

150g roasted chestnuts, peeled

salt & pepper

handful of chopped fresh parsley

For the marinade:

10 juniper berries

10 black peppercorns

10 cardamom pods (I didn’t have these so put in some allspice berries instead)

2 star anise

1 medium red onion, sliced

250ml red wine

150ml gin

juice of 1 orange & 3 long strips of rind

4 sprigs of fresh thyme (we used dried)

2 bay leaves

For the gravy:

500ml beef stock

2 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

Potatoes (as you like them) and roast vege to serve.

  1. Marinade the venison in all the spices and alcohol by taking all the spices and lightly grinding them in a pestle and mortar (we didn’t have one so I used the bottom of a wine bottle and a plastic bowl!).  Put them in a large flat dish to marinade and add the wine, gin, orange juice and rind, onion, thyme and bay leaves.  Mix well to combine.  Then add the venison, squish around to cover in the marinade, turn over, squish again, spoon over to get the sides, cover in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 2-3 days, turning 3-4 times so each side is evenly marinaded.
  2. When you’re ready to roast the venison, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.  If having roast potatoes, stick these in now too so they’re nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
  3. Remove the venison from the marinade and reserve the marinade for the gravy.  Pat dry the venison.  Heat the oil in a large roasting pan on the hob and brown the venison on all sides.
  4. Then place in the oven (no need for tin foil) for 10 minutes per 500g.  Then add an extra 15 minutes for medium and 30 for well done.  We did ours medium rare, which was perfect and roasted it for 65 minutes.  Once it’s done, remove from the oven and put on a warmed serving dish.  Cover in tin foil and clean towels and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Whist the venison is roasting, stick in your other roast vege (I just added these to the potatoes) and make stock for the gravy.
  6. Put the marinade in a pan with the stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer until it’s reduced to around 500ml.  Sieve it to remove the bits and set aside until you make the gravy.
  7. Next make the chestnut and bacon accompaniment.  Heat a frying pan and add the pancetta or bacon and fry until it starts to go crispy.  Then add the chestnuts and the parsley and some seasoning.  Stir well and remove from the heat.
  8. Finally, take the roasting tin and place on the hob.  Add the flour and mix well with the juices.  Gradually add the stock, stirring continually to avoid getting any lumps.  Then add the redcurrant jelly and simmer until the sauce is thickened and glossy.   Add more wine or stock if it becomes too thick.
  9. Serve, ask someone else to carve, put the chestnuts and bacon on top of the meat and cover it all in gravy.  This is genuinely the best way to eat it!  And sink into rapturous delight as everyone is silent, stuffing their faces!

Venison stew

Serves about 6-8 (ish)

The remainder of the venison meat, cut into smallish chunks.  I would say this was at least 600g of meat.

2 tbsp oil (we used olive)

1 onion chopped into chunks

5 carrots chopped into small chunks

2 peppers chopped into chunks (you can use any vege you like here, this is just what we used)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly (or cranberry)

150 ml red wine

tin of chopped tomatoes plus a couple of fresh ones

Any leftover gravy from the roast

salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the meat and brown on all sides.
  2. Add the vege and fry until softened.
  3. Add the canned and fresh tomatoes, red wine and leftover gravy.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat, covered for at least 1 hour (go off and have a bath at this point, or paint your nails or something!).  The longer you leave it, the more tender it’ll be.
  5. Check on the stew occasionally and see if it needs more liquid.  If it does, add more wine or some beef stock.
  6. When its good and cooked, serve with rice or potatoes or dumplings or bread or any combination.
  7. Eat, feeling it’s probably the best stew you ever ate!
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