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Annie Assheton's Venison Recipes

Annie Assheton's Venison Recipes
It’s stalking season and our celebrity cook, Annie Assheton, looks at one of the healthiest and most versatile meats – discover her venison recipes.

Where I live in West Berkshire the landscape is highly populated by deer.  Picturesque scenes of a pair grazing in a misty field frequently greet me when I go to feed my horses in the morning and, on a less positive note, friends often curse their proliferation as rose beds are decimated yet again.  Indeed, experts believe that more culling than currently occurs is necessary to control the deer population as, with no natural predators, their numbers are ever on the increase. So it's no suprise the interest in deer stalking is on the rise.

This must be to all cooks’ advantage as venison ticks so many popular boxes: it’s the healthiest of red meats being low in fat and high in iron, protein and Omega 3; it’s free range and naturally organic; it’s seasonal but, with variations in the seasons between different species and genders, it’s available all year round.  We are particularly lucky in this area to have several large estates on which the deer herds are well managed and the resulting local meat (another box ticked) found at butchers, farm shops and specialist game suppliers is easily available to be enjoyed by professional chefs and home cooks alike.  Add to that its versatility in the kitchen not to mention the fact that it is supremely delicious and one has to wonder why people don’t cook and eat venison on a much more regular basis.  Perhaps there are a few barriers that need tackling before it becomes accepted as an everyday and multi-seasonal alternative to beef, pork or lamb?

I suspect that people who haven’t tried much venison might fear that it is very rich and gamey and perhaps are put off for that reason.  Undeniably it does have complex and distinctive flavour but it’s not particularly strong and certainly less so than much other game although the strength of flavour does vary between the breeds; roe deer is very much more subtle a flavour than red, for example.

Deer

Venison Carpaccio Recipe

One way of really appreciating venison’s gorgeous flavour is to serve it as carpaccio.  This is venison recipe I frequently use as a starter because it can be prepared in advance, requires no last minute attention or cooking (or indeed any cooking!), looks gorgeous and most importantly stimulates one’s taste buds without being a heavy start to a multi-course dinner.

My favourite way of preparing it was taught to me by our local game specialist, chef Mike Robinson. Quite a while ago, before I even thought of applying for MasterChef, I was given a present of a place on Mike’s Essential Game cookery class.  It was a fabulous day and I learnt a huge amount but this was one of my favourite techniques that I took away.

Mike taught us to slice a loin of venison thinly and lay the piece out on top of a piece of grease proof paper which had been rubbed with some oil.  It’s important to leave plenty of space between the slices.  We then put another piece of grease proof paper, oiled side down, on top of the venison.  Mike then demonstrated how to use the side of a cleaver to whack (there is no other word for it) the venison slices in turn with a slight smoothing action as the cleaver met its target.  Soon, instead of small nuggets of meat, we were admiring incredibly thin slices of venison which, when held up to a window, glowed like stained glass.  I don’t have a cleaver at home, they terrify me, so rely on the smooth side of my meat mallet.  It’s a supremely satisfying job; noisy but great fun.

In terms of accompaniments, you can very simply arrange three slices of carpaccio on each plate, sprinkle over some rocket and drizzle it all with some rapeseed oil and very good, thick balsamic vinegar (Belazu is my favourite), finishing off with a sprinkling of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper. You could also use a swivel headed potato peeler to shave off some parmesan; it goes brilliantly with the venison.  Not much more arduous, but a way of taking this dish to a whole new level, is to add a quenelle of celeriac remoulade (but this is instead of, not on top of the parmesan!)

As a starter this works just as well in summer as any other time of year and I hope the idea might dispel received wisdom that Venison is suitable primarily for autumnal or wintery weather.  It’s certainly an ingredient that springs to mind when one needs something rich and comforting; a venison and chestnut casserole is the ultimate winter warmer and conjures up a backdrop of roaring fires, tweed blankets and large glasses of something red, all providing insulation while frost crawls up the window panes.  However, I’ve always found it to be a lovely ingredient to use all year round and have even used it for summer picnics.

Versatile Venison Recipes

At my son’s recent sports day around 20 families gathered together both to share the cooking burden and to make it a thoroughly sociable occasion.  One brilliant mother took charge of organising us all and each family signed up to bring along a particular type of dish.  I decided to take one of the main courses and to do something a little bit different in the form of a venison terrine.  It’s brilliant picnic food; you can prepare it well in advance, it’s an easy shape to wrap and pack (I pre-sliced it quite thinly then reformed the slices into the original shape and wrapped it all in foil) and can either be eaten just with a green and perhaps a potato or bulgar wheat salad, or it can be enveloped in bread for a supremely superior sandwich.  I also discovered that it comes to absolutely no harm when subjected to a fairly sharp shower; there was certainly a freshness to it once the thunderstorm had passed but its texture had not been compromised in the slightest.  Oh how I love picnics in England!

Venison on the BBQ

I’ve also used venison to great effect on the BBQ.  Haunch is the best cut to use for this as there is some fat on it and I generally use a butterflied joint which means it will cook quicker so there is less danger of it drying out.  In the countryside around us we have a huge number of Muntjac, the very small and stocky breed of deer which was originally brought over from China but which has now populated much of England and particularly the south.  They have a habit of barking frequently at night and sound quite like a fox which makes our village sound scarily like one from Midsummer Murders. Being so small, a Muntjac haunch is a perfect size for a family BBQ and it is so quick and easy to prepare and cook.  I tend to marinate it in some oil with thyme, garlic, some crushed juniper berries and a squeeze of lemon juice.  8-10 minutes on each side in a lidded BBQ produces glorious, medium-rare meat which, if you have chosen the butterflied option, is blissfully easy to carve too.

Experiment Further with Venison

I wonder if a perception of venison as a luxurious ingredient keeps it from being an obvious first choice for everyday cooking. In fact, because it is in such plentiful local supply it is very reasonable in cost and certainly no more than beef. ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ made with venison is absolutely delicious and just as economical to make as the more traditional versions using lamb or beef.  All you need to do is follow your normal recipe but use venison mince instead; the results, for such a simple dish, are spectacular.

So do consider broadening your venison intake to encompass the whole year and not just the winter months, and to think of it for every day eating as well as special occasions.  Venison is such a wonderful resource that we have in plentiful supply on our doorstep and with all its green, economic and health credentials it is something that I very much hope will be used more and more in years to come

Venison Terrine Recipe

  • 800g pork mince (ideally belly)
  • 8 juniper berries, crushed
  • Grating of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Chives, finely chopped
  • ½ glass sherry
  • 8 soft dried figs, chopped
  • 300g streaky bacon
  • 400g Venison loin fillet or pave
For this venison recipe you will need a loaf tin of approx. 23cm x 10cm but any shape will do; you might just have to adjust the amounts slightly if its capacity is wildly larger or smaller.

Venison_Terrine_1

Put the mince, spices, herbs, sherry and seasoning into a big bowl with the figs and use a spoon or, more effectively, your hands to mix it all together.  Leave for at least an hour (or overnight if it’s more convenient) for the flavours to develop.  Line your loaf tin with the bacon, overlapping the slices so that they will completely encase the mixture and leaving the ends hanging over the edge of the terrine.  Press a thin layer of mince into the bottom of the terrine and then lay over strips of venison.  Keep layering until the terrine is full, finishing with a layer of mince.  Lay the bacon ends over the top of the mince so that it is all covered and finally wrap it all tightly in foil.

Venison_Terrine_2

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and then put the terrine into a roasting tin with boiling water coming half way up the sides of the terrine.  Leave it all in the oven for 45 minutes by which time it should feel firm and all of the juices should run clear.  Allow the terrine to cool before pouring off any excess liquid and wrapping it in cling film.  It can then be kept in the fridge until you need it.

Venison_Terrine_3a

When stalking season arrives... it's time to get cooking with Venison! Our celebrity cook, Annie Assheton, looks at one of the healthiest and most versatile meats - discover her venison recipes.

Where I live in West Berkshire the landscape is highly populated by deer. Picturesque scenes of a pair grazing in a misty field frequently greet me when I go to feed my horses in the morning and, on a less positive note, friends often curse their proliferation as rose beds are decimated yet again. Indeed, experts believe that more culling than currently occurs is necessary to control the deer population as, with no natural predators, their numbers are ever on the increase. So it's no surprise the interest in deer stalking is on the rise.

This must be to all cooks’ advantage as venison ticks so many popular boxes: it’s the healthiest of red meats being low in fat and high in iron, protein and Omega 3; it’s free range and naturally organic; it’s seasonal but, with variations in the seasons between different species and genders, it’s available all year round.  We are particularly lucky in this area to have several large estates on which the deer herds are well managed, and the resulting local meat (another box ticked) found at butchers, farm shops and specialist game suppliers is easily available to be enjoyed by professional chefs and home cooks alike. Add to that its versatility in the kitchen not to mention the fact that it is supremely delicious, and one has to wonder why people don’t cook and eat venison on a much more regular basis.  Perhaps there are a few barriers that need tackling before it becomes accepted as an everyday and multi-seasonal alternative to beef, pork or lamb?

I suspect that people who haven’t tried much venison might fear that it is very rich and gamey and perhaps are put off for that reason.  Undeniably it does have complex and distinctive flavour but it’s not particularly strong and certainly less so than much other game although the strength of flavour does vary between the breeds; roe deer is very much more subtle a flavour than red, for example.

Venison Carpaccio Recipe

One way of really appreciating venison’s gorgeous flavour is to serve it as carpaccio.  This is venison recipe I frequently use as a starter because it can be prepared in advance, requires no last minute attention or cooking (or indeed any cooking!), looks gorgeous and most importantly stimulates one’s taste buds without being a heavy start to a multi-course dinner.

My favourite way of preparing it was taught to me by our local game specialist, chef Mike Robinson. Quite a while ago, before I even thought of applying for MasterChef, I was given a present of a place on Mike’s Essential Game cookery class.  It was a fabulous day and I learnt a huge amount but this was one of my favourite techniques that I took away.

Deer

Mike taught us to slice a loin of venison thinly and lay the piece out on top of a piece of grease proof paper which had been rubbed with some oil.  It’s important to leave plenty of space between the slices.  We then put another piece of grease proof paper, oiled side down, on top of the venison.  Mike then demonstrated how to use the side of a cleaver to whack (there is no other word for it) the venison slices in turn with a slight smoothing action as the cleaver met its target.  Soon, instead of small nuggets of meat, we were admiring incredibly thin slices of venison which, when held up to a window, glowed like stained glass.  I don’t have a cleaver at home, they terrify me, so rely on the smooth side of my meat mallet.  It’s a supremely satisfying job; noisy but great fun.

In terms of accompaniments, you can very simply arrange three slices of carpaccio on each plate, sprinkle over some rocket and drizzle it all with some rapeseed oil and very good, thick balsamic vinegar (Belazu is my favourite), finishing off with a sprinkling of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper. You could also use a swivel headed potato peeler to shave off some parmesan; it goes brilliantly with the venison.  Not much more arduous, but a way of taking this dish to a whole new level, is to add a quenelle of celeriac remoulade (but this is instead of, not on top of the parmesan!)

As a starter this works just as well in summer as any other time of year and I hope the idea might dispel received wisdom that Venison is suitable primarily for autumnal or wintery weather.  It’s certainly an ingredient that springs to mind when one needs something rich and comforting; a venison and chestnut casserole is the ultimate winter warmer and conjures up a backdrop of roaring fires, tweed blankets and large glasses of something red, all providing insulation while frost crawls up the windowpanes.  However, I’ve always found it to be a lovely ingredient to use all year round and have even used it for summer picnics.

Versatile Venison Recipes

Once, at my son’s sports day, around 20 families gathered together both to share the cooking burden and to make it a thoroughly sociable occasion. One brilliant mother took charge of organising us all and each family signed up to bring along a particular type of dish. I decided to take one of the main courses and to do something a little bit different in the form of a venison terrine.

It’s brilliant picnic food; you can prepare it well in advance, it’s an easy shape to wrap and pack (I pre-sliced it quite thinly then reformed the slices into the original shape and wrapped it all in foil) and can either be eaten just with a green and perhaps a potato or bulgar wheat salad, or it can be enveloped in bread for a supremely superior sandwich.  I also discovered that it comes to absolutely no harm when subjected to a fairly sharp shower; there was certainly a freshness to it once the thunderstorm had passed but its texture had not been compromised in the slightest.  Oh how I love picnics in England!

Venison on the BBQ

I’ve also used venison to great effect on the BBQ.  Haunch is the best cut to use for this as there is some fat on it and I generally use a butterflied joint which means it will cook quicker so there is less danger of it drying out.

In the countryside around us we have a huge number of Muntjac, the very small and stocky breed of deer which was originally brought over from China but which has now populated much of England and particularly the south.  They have a habit of barking frequently at night and sound quite like a fox which makes our village sound scarily like one from Midsummer Murders. Being so small, a Muntjac haunch is a perfect size for a family BBQ and it is so quick and easy to prepare and cook.

I tend to marinate it in some oil with thyme, garlic, some crushed juniper berries and a squeeze of lemon juice.  8-10 minutes on each side in a lidded BBQ produces glorious, medium-rare meat which, if you have chosen the butterflied option, is blissfully easy to carve too.

Experiment Further with Venison

I wonder if a perception of venison as a luxurious ingredient keeps it from being an obvious first choice for everyday cooking. In fact, because it is in such plentiful local supply it is very reasonable in cost and certainly no more than beef. ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ made with venison is absolutely delicious and just as economical to make as the more traditional versions using lamb or beef. All you need to do is follow your normal recipe but use venison mince instead; the results, for such a simple dish, are spectacular.

So do consider broadening your venison intake to encompass the whole year, not just the winter months, and to think of it for every day eating as well as special occasions.  Venison is such a wonderful resource that we have in plentiful supply on our doorstep and with all its green, economic and health credentials it is something that I very much hope will be used more and more in years to come

Venison Terrine Recipe

Ingredients

  • 800g pork mince (ideally belly)
  • 8 juniper berries, crushed
  • Grating of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • ½ glass sherry
  • 8 soft dried figs, chopped
  • 300g streaky bacon
  • 400g venison loin fillet or pave

Method

For this venison recipe you will need a loaf tin of approx. 23cm x 10cm but any shape will do; you might just have to adjust the amounts slightly if its capacity is wildly larger or smaller.

Put the mince, spices, herbs, sherry and seasoning into a big bowl with the figs and use a spoon or, more effectively, your hands to mix it all together. Leave for at least an hour (or overnight if it’s more convenient) for the flavours to develop.

Line your loaf tin with the bacon, overlapping the slices so that they will completely encase the mixture and leaving the ends hanging over the edge of the terrine. 

Venison_Terrine_1
Venison_Terrine_2

Press a thin layer of mince into the bottom of the terrine and then lay over strips of venison.

Keep layering until the terrine is full, finishing with a layer of mince.  Lay the bacon ends over the top of the mince so that it is all covered and finally wrap it all tightly in foil.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and then put the terrine into a roasting tin with boiling water coming halfway up the sides of the terrine. 

Leave it all in the oven for 45 minutes by which time it should feel firm and all of the juices should run clear. 

Allow the terrine to cool before pouring off any excess liquid and wrapping it in cling film.  It can then be kept in the fridge until you need it.

2022-08-18 11:42:00
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