By Ben Hope
Venison is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. That is wild venison for it’s totally organic. Wild deer are totally herbivore and totally free range.
You’ll cut back on fat and calories in comparing venison to beef. One authority (US) says a 3-ounce serving of roasted venison contains 140 calories, less than 1 gram of fat and 26 grams of protein, which is 50 percent of the daily value for protein if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet.
In comparison, a 3-ounce serving of grilled beef tenderloin steak, which has the same amount of protein as the venison, provides 179 calories and 7.6 grams of fat, including 3 grams of saturated fat.
Andy Lyver in her excellent book “Wild and Wonderful Everyday Venison Recipes for All Seasons” said venison is “high in iron and low in cholesterol, making it one of the healthiest meats available.”
Venison is totally organic with no drenches, antibiotics or other chemicals most farmed meat may get injected with.
Cook s-l-o-w-l-y in the case of braising or casseroles (150 degrees C?)
Match the cut to the cooking method
Tenderise the meat if necessary by using a marinade. A basic marinade involves an acid (e.g. lemon, wine, vinegar, olive oil and herbs and spices of your choice.
Use good kitchen tools, e.g. a very sharp knife for slicing backsteaks
Use your imagination especially as regards seasonings.
Rest the venison for five or ten minutes after cooking before serving so as to develop the flavour fully.
Preheat the frying pan, oven or barbecue before cooking.
Oil the meat not the pan. When grilling, barbecuing or pan frying, it’s best to brush each side of the meat with a little cooking oil, before searing each side for one minute for every cm of thickness.
Two Top Books
Alex Gale’s book has several venison recipes that include a venison marinade, a barbecue sauce plus methods of roasting, braising, casseroling, barbecueing etc.,
A book that is almost indispensable is Andy Lyver’s “Wild and Wonderful Everyday Venison Recipes For All Seasons” published by Halcyon Press in 2007. If you have not a copy, get one! It’s that good!
From steaks to stir fries and burgers and soups to stews, roasts and many more, there’s an amazing variety of recipes. What I liked is they’re not necessarily fancy.
For simplicity look at this casserole called “Boozy Venison.”
Serves 6 to 8
1 kg venison (any reasonable cut)
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
600 ml any good dark beer
1 cup runny honey
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C
Chop venison into bite-sized chunks and shake in a plastic bag with the flour, salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based pan and when it’s hot fry the venison chunks in some butter and oil until they’re just browned. You will need to do this in batches so that the meat doesn’t sweat in the pan.
Put the venison in a casserole dish. Dissolve the honey in the beer and when well mixed, pour over the venison. Put in the oven and testing from an hour on until the meat is tender.
Serve with new potatoes and green beans or peas.
Remember the point above about using your imagination?
Well, I add two sliced onions part-fried and also 2 cloves garlic.
Another casserole I like is Andy’s “Slow Cooked Venison with Sherried prunes”
It serves 4 for dinner.
750 grams venison, diced into bite-sized pieces.
1/2 cup flour
Salt and Pepper
Butter or oil
! cup beef stock
! onion copped
12-15 prunes soaked in a little sherry
The prunes are soaked for a few hours beforehand or preferably overnight. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Fry oven with butter or oil, in a heavy pan until soft.
Shake venison pieces in a plastic bag with flour, salt and pepper. Quickly brown the venison (not too much!), transfer to casserole dish. Make the cup of beef stock (cube or packet), simmer in pan for a few moments and add to casserole to almost cover the meat. Sprinkle the prunes into casserole. Cover and cook for up one to two hours.Andy Lyver suggests two hours for both casserole recipes, but I’d be inclined to test it after one and a half hours until you think it’s right.
Again innovation. Andy suggests for “an extra zing, soak a few juniper berries with the prunes.” My wife Bridget suggests also one teaspoon crushed garlic, one dessert spoon soy sauce and half treason dried rosemary.
Over to you! Don’t be afraid to be adventurous.
For burgers (oh how I love burgers!) try this recipe.
0.5 kg minced venison
one egg lightly beaten
one dessert spoon cornflour
one finely chopped onion
one grated medium sized carrot
one grated zucchini (optional)
teaspoon mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Good slosh of tomato sauce
Mix together and pulse in a food blender.
Make into suitable sized potatoes or meat balls and fry on barbecue.
On the cooking time angle pan frying or barbecueing, sliced steaks or medallions may need just a minute each side on high heat. Stir fry only needs a couple of minutes on high heat while ensuring the meat is kept moving in the pan or wok.
“Wild and Wonderful Everyday Venison Recipes for All Seasons” by Andy Lyver published 2007 by Halcyon Press
“The New Zealand Deer Hunter’s Hand book” by Alex Gales published 2006 by Halycon Press
“I’m not sure if both or either are still in print. If not scout second hand bookshops.