Tag Archives: venison

venison season: Ben’s blog – going back to my roast – whoops, roots

Occasionally, for whatever reason and in whatever way, we all feel the need to get back to our roots. Genealogists can spend hours on the internet. For organic food lovers, venison is the way to go. It’s about as natural and unadulterated as meat gets. Truly wild animals can’t, by definition, be organic, but farmed venison, whose breeding and life cycle has hardly changed in the last thousand years, can. In fact, without the likes of Bad King John and James I and their bloodthirsty chums chasing them, a deer’s life is on the up. These days they’re born in the spring, live a stress free ‘park life’ and are dispatched in the field, eighteen months later, by expert marksmen, before the stress of autumn rutting.

losing the stigma

Across the pond, venison is all the rage with followers of the Weston A Price Foundation, but you don’t have to be an earth mother to enjoy it. The season for farmed venison actually starts in August, but despite it shining on the barbecue, it’s much more suited to autumn eating. Why we don’t eat more of it is a mystery, because on health, welfare and sustainability grounds it can’t be beat. It’s taken a generation for venison to divest itself of its toff nosh/cute bambi/’no I deer’ jokes image. It’s been a tough nut to crack, but finally the health benefits (high in protein, iron and Omega-3, low in fat and cholesterol), availability and our endless quest for something new has won it its rightful place on our plate.

‘v’ is for versatile

When I think of venison, I see comforting casseroles and chunky red wines, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Firstly, it’s just like any meat: some cuts grill, some roast, others stew. Secondly, venison is worldwide and totally adaptable – it takes rogan josh and stir fries in its stride. It also lends itself beautifully to my current favourite ‘dish of the day’, Bo Kho/Vietnamese Beef Stew. My top tip is, in a casserole, once you’ve browned your meat and added the liquid, don’t even think about letting it boil. Slow cookers/crock pots are best but, failing that, the oven on minimum setting is your best bet. Lean meat always needs TLC.

To keep the venison company, we’ve got some exciting new wines coming your way in October. Nativa Cabernet Sauvignon will work with roasts and steaks and Nativa Carmenere is perfect with casseroles and stews. There will also be a rustic Rosso Piceno for ragus and an award winning Corbières, so watch this space for our new Autumn wines.

Ben Watson

Stags in the mist

Family herds, parkland ruts and the food of kings.

As the damp autumn winds pick up and leaves start a-whirling outside, the lure of warming casseroles, cosy fires and spicy red wine become all the more tantalising. However, right now you’ll be missing a trick if you reach for the diced beef or cubed lamb; autumn means venison season, and all the rich, deep flavours that come with it.

In the past, the type of venison sold was often from more mature wild deer, whose feral existence and diet of heather and bark did little to make the meat palatable to today’s tastes. A common misconception that has come out of wild venison’s tougher nature is that people often think they need to marinade the meat to make it tender enough to eat.

In contrast to this, all our venison comes from small organic herds reared on Westcountry family farms, where they graze a natural diet of clover-rich grass and wildflowers. They roam the land in natural rutting groups with a lead stag, and are managed in such a way that they have a near-wild existence, without the health issues often inherent in feral herds. The result is a tender meat with remarkable health benefits that needs only light cooking (though resting after

cooking it is really important, to make it as juicy as possible). It’s lower in fat than a skinned breast of chicken, higher in iron than any other red meat and low in cholesterol. It’s also brimming with Omega-3s, which have an absurdly long list of health benefits of their own.

If you’ve been put off by the overpoweringly gamey flavour of old fashioned venison, give ours a whirl. It’s more like a really flavourful beefy taste that even kids will get stuck into.

order organic venison from Riverford