Do not be afraid of GAME – roast haunch of venison

Venison

On the whole I don’t like game, but my husband really does, so in an effort to buy something that might please us both I asked my butcher*, “Can you tell me what is the least gamey sort of game?”.

How dumb? But he just smiled and offered me a rolled, boned, haunch of venison (that looked very much like a joint of beef) and I was so embarrassed by my stupid question that I felt compelled to buy it.

It then sat in my fridge for a week (terrifying me) while I decided what on earth I was going to do with it. Seriously out of my comfort zone I faffed around on the internet looking at various recipes and then tried the following – an amalgamation of a few.

It worked so well that I completely annoyed my husband by going on (and on) about how surprised I was at how good it tasted (it was pure relief, not gloating I promise). Unlike venison I’ve had in the past it was not at all liverish but very tender and possibly even nicer than roast beef.

Roast haunch of venison

  • A 838g haunch of venison, rolled and deboned (see note below)

Marinade

  • 1/2 a bottle of good red wine (I used a light Rijoa)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 5 juniper berries, roughly crushed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly crushed

To roast

  • 30g of butter
  • 3 slices of bacon, streaky or back, bashed until thin with a rolling pin

Gravy

  • marinade liquor, sieved
  • juices from the roasting pan
  • 1/2 Knorr beef stock pot (or equivalent)
  • a dollop of blackcurrant jam (or other sweet jam)
  • a teaspoon of cornflour ‘slaked’ (guess whose programme I’ve been watching?) with a little water

Bathe the joint for at least 24 hours but for up to two days in the marinade ingredients above.

Take the venison out of the marinade and reserve and strain the liquor. Pat dry and leave uncovered in a cool place for a few hours to dry out a bit. Cover loosely with kitchen roll if you’re worried about flies or other contaminants.

Smear the joint with butter and lay the bacon over the top.

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 220oC.

Then another 20 minutes at 170oC.

Take out of the oven and leave to rest, covered in tin foil, for 15 minutes.

For the gravy, boil the sieved marinade until the alcohol has burned off and it has reduced by about a quarter. Add the stock pot and the juices from the roasting pan. Then stir in the cornflour mixture and cook on a medium heat, stirring all the time, until thickened. Add the jam. Taste and season with salt and pepper if you think it necessary.

Carve the venison and serve with the gravy.

I served mine with peas and pommes coq d’or (you need to scroll down the page, past the gammon, for the recipe).

NOTES:

*Coates Traditional Butchers, Bramcote Lane, Wollaton – I’m not saying this because I want freebies or discounts, I just want people to support really good butchers. If you live this side of Nottingham then please use Coates instead of the Waitrose round the corner.

There are no photos of the venison because I was so convinced it was going to be awful that I didn’t have the camera ready.

If you have a different weight of meat (very likely) here’s the maths to work out the cooking time. Weigh your meat in grams and get a calculator. Whatever the weight cook for 20 minutes at 220oC. Then multiply the weight of your meat (in grams) by  0.024 and that is how long you need to cook it for at 170oC. This is for medium rare.

Use any leftover meat to make rissoles. I use a Delia recipe which will probably appear here soon.

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