04 January 2010

Ultimate Venison Cookery

I find it a bit unusual that in the Untied States where we love to eat “everything”, that there is little commercial venison. It is a popular and available meat in most of Europe and the Untied Kingdom. There is a special affinity for farming venison in Scotland. Much of the salient cooking expertise comes from great Scottish cooks like Lady Claire Macdonald and Nicola Fletcher.

Fletcher collected thirty years of farming, butchering and cooking venison into a marvelous book on the subject. Ultimate Venison Cookery is just that – the ultimate book on the subject. If you love venison, this book is a must. Fletcher explains in detail the parts and cuts of the deer. She gives sound advice on the issue of marinating or not citing a cookery book she was reading as a draft. It bore a misprint urging the reader to use marinades, “with desecration and with a purpose”. Fletcher found it to be more of a prophecy than a misprint. Many marinades, she notes, take on the air of a pickling brine than a marinade. Marinade lightly with a purpose and not a desecration.

My favorite holiday terrine is from the Duchess of Devonshire, but this winter, I have been using a variation of Nicola Fletcher’s venison terrine.

Venison and Apricot Terrine

75 g dried apricots, chopped
3 tablespoons brandy
500 g minced venison
350 g minced belly of pork
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 allspice berries, crushed
6 juniper berries, crushed
100 ml dry red wine or port
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
175 g thinly slice pancetta or streaky bacon
1 egg, beaten

Mix apricots with the brandy and cover and leave to soak for a couple of hours. Mix together the venison, pork, fresh ginger, allspice, juniper berries, salt and pepper with the wine or port and the olive oil. Cover and marinate overnight or as long as you can.

Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180 C, 350 F. Line a terrine or loaf tin with the pancetta or streaky bacon, keeping 3 or 4 rashers for the top. Beat the egg into the marinated venison mixture, then use just under half to fill the base of the terrine, pushing a 1.25 cm ridge up all around the sides of the terrine. Spoon the apricots into the hollow created by the ridge, then cover with the rest of the venison mixture to encase the apricots completely. Smooth over and cover with the rest of the pancetta or bacon, folding over any stray strips.

Cover with tin foil, place in a bain marie and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place a weight on top, then chill. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the tin and turn the terrine out.

It makes a delicate and wonderful terrine. I have made it with and without the apricot layer and both have been well received. Now may be the time to befriend a hunter so they will share their game next November.

1 comment:

  1. looks quite good-my local venison experience growing up was a lady who did venison burgers with the whole burger and fries meal.


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