In the depths of January it is always good to have a treat to look forward to, and our Exmoor venison, from the high moorland, is just that!
Venison is a wonderful, tasty, healthy and nutritious meat. And what is more it is very versatile, being able to be used in so many dishes, and, well-cooked, quite delicious.
The secret with venison is that you must try not to let it dry out during cooking, and you can do this by adding a fatty meat like bacon or belly pork to the dish, or by cooking the venison slowly in a casserole with a rich sauce.
In the Middle Ages the term “venison” was used for all hunted game, but in more modern times it is used just for the meat of deer. Venison’s versatility is beyond question. We have seen a 1349 menu including venison tartlets. A spit-roasted haunch of venison was the dish of Medieval monarchs and nobility. Broiled, stewed or casseroled venison were widely eaten and are all delicious.
Mrs. Beeton in her “Book of Household Management” first published in 1861 gives a recipe for a Ragout of Venaison in which marinaded slices of venison, with added chunks of fat, are casseroled with a rich stock made from port wine and redcurrant jelly and seasoned with allspice and peppercorns. The earthy, gamey taste of the venison does seem to blend perfectly with a heavy red wine or port and redcurrant or rowan jelly sauce. In fact, any combination of these seems to work really well!
Rowan jelly made from the fruit of the rowan or mountain ash, so prevalent on the hills of Exmoor, if you are able to source it, seems to be a particularly apt accompaniment to wild venison.
So, try out our wild Exmoor venison now, see which of the many delicious ways of cooking it you prefer and, maybe, if you are out walking on Exmoor in the late summer, collect responsibly some rowan berries to make a little of your own rowan jelly for next winter’s venison!