Braised Venison and Carrots
It’s probably too late to wish ‘Happy New Year’, seeing how it has been more than three weeks into 2013. I thought we could be more consistent in posting but my days have been spent lying in bed with my laptop propped on my lap and watching Stephen Fry on QI. There goes a New Year resolution out of the window.
Lately, my conversations with N have been about meat. The simple pleasure of enjoying fresh meat on your table comes down to where it came from, how the animal was taken care of, how ethically it was prepared, etc. I’ve been reading a lot about the provenance of meat and fell in love with the passions that independent farmers have for their animals and butchers who respect their products. Pity that our little island does not have the land for little farms of handsome cows and cute pigs.
But we thought we would try something different this time – venison.
Venison comprises of deer, elk, moose and caribou, but the most widely consumed would be the deer. The main three breeds that one can find would be the red deer (the majestic Scottish variant), fallow deer or the roe deer (considered the best by most chefs). Most websites would recommend wild venison, which are tougher but full of flavour over farmed venison. However, we found out that all venison imported into Singapore are from Australia and New Zealand, where deer are mostly farmed. By law, all game must be frozen and farmed due to the risk of diseases.
To get the most out of your venison, speak to the your local butcher and they should be more than happy to help you out. (If they don’t, maybe it’s time to break up with him.) The cuts of venison is almost similar to that of a lamb. The shoulder, neck and flank are best for braising and stews; but only the leg was available at our butchers so we decided to make do with it.
I could go on and on about venison but I should stop. Or else a proper essay will probably emerge out of it.
It was raining the whole day today. Perfect weather to tuck into some comfort food!
Braised Venison With Carrots
By Mark Hix
1.5kg trimmed venison meat, from a single muscle
750ml good red wine
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 juniper berries, crushed
3 tablespoons plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 1/2 litres good dark beef stock
1-2 teaspoons cornflour (optional)
200-250g small carrots, such as chantenay, peeled
a couple of good knobs of butter
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Cut the venison into 3-4cm chunks and place in a stainless steel or ceramic bowl with the red wine, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and juniper berries. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 days.
Drain the meat in a colander, reserving the marinade, and dry the pieces on some kitchen paper. Flour the meat lightly, using a tablespoon of the flour, and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-based frying pan and fry the meat, a few pieces at a time, over high heat until nicely browned.
Heat the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onions for a few minutes until soft. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and tomato puree, and stir over a low heat for a minute. Slowly add the reserved marinade, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Bring to a boil and simmer until it has reduced by half.
Add the beef stock and the pieces of venison and bring back to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer very gently over a low heat for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender. It’s difficult to put an exact time to braising meat; you may find it needs an extra half an hour. Once the meat is cooked, the sauce should have thickened sufficiently. If not, mix 1-2 teaspoons cornflour with a little cold water, stir into the sauce and simmer, stirring for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, put the carrots in a pan and just cover with water. Add the butter, sugar and seasoning and simmer rapidly until the carrots are tender. Drain off any excess cooking little to glaze them, then toss with chopped parsley.
Divide the stew among warm bowls and top with the glazed carrots. Serve at once.
Set aside more beef stock than specified, just in case more is needed.
If the venison pieces are larger in size, cook them for longer at about 3-4 hours.