Venison is the culinary term for any kind of deer be it hunted or farmed; the meat is some of the best you can find in Scotland. The meat is somewhat like beef with a more gamey flavour and tends to have a much leaner texture than beef. It is best served with a sweet sauce like a red currant or bramble sauce. We almost always cook our venison medium rare as to cook it on any further just makes it very tough and chewy.
The organ meats of the deer can also be eaten, but they would not be called venison, instead they are named noumbles.
In recent years venison has seen a distinct rise in popularity due in partial fact to its low fat content. In fact here at Knockderry House Hotel when making items such as venison burgers or venison sausages we need to add fat to the meat e.g. for burgers we add streaky bacon and for our venison sausages we add Stornoway black pudding to keep the moisture when cooking.
Our Venison is supplied by our local game keeper Pat Leonard, our most recent beast coming from no more than 2 miles from Knockderry House Hotel in a small area called Rahane. We receive the stag (usually around 170lb) that has been hung for 3-4 days. Perfect for the young stag we recently acquired. The older the animal the longer it needs to be hung, as the muscles are much tougher.
When it arrives, we skin it and butcher it and use every part of the animal in the hotel kitchen.
We have the loin, the most tender, lean, most expensive piece of the animal, the haunch, which takes much more cooking, better to be braised or stewed, and the ribs and the flank which are good to be braised and crisped up.
One dish loved by our guests is our venison pie.
500g Venison mince
1 Ltr Venison stock (beef stock or vegetable stock can be used)
2 carrots (diced)
2 Sticks of celery (diced)
100g Celeriac (diced)
1 large white onion (diced)
1 Sprig of thyme
1 Bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic (pureed)
1 Tbl Red currant jelly
1 Tsp Olive oil
S & P
Sweat off carrots, celery, celeriac, onions and garlic in the olive oil in a heavy based pot until soft but without colouring.
Set the vegetables to one side and in another (very hot) pan brown off the venison mince.
Once the mince is browned, nicely strain off the fat in a colander, add to the vegetables, then add the stock, thyme, bay leaf and redcurrant jelly simmer the mince in the stock until the sauce reduces to a nice saucy consistency.
Season to taste.
Serve in a deep bowl and top with creamy mashed potato, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and grill until golden brown. Serve with honey glazed parsnips.
Alternatively, you could serve with a puff pastry top, cut puff pastry to desired size, score a nice pattern on it, brush with egg yolk and bake in the oven till golden and well risen, and pop on top of your pie.