A Wild Venison Masterclass for the Guild of Food Writersby Robert Gooch April 03 2017
With the fresh feathered game season well and truly behind us for another year at the Wild Meat Company, we thought we’d turn our attentions to another delicious and fully-traceable source of meat that is not only abundant in Suffolk but able to be sustainably harvested for most of the year while helping to protect farmers’ crops into the bargain.
Of course, we’re talking wild venison. Red, fallow, roe, muntjac and Chinese water deer make up the species that we’re able to source locally to turn into our prime venison products that not only deliver fantastic flavour but represent ethically-reared, seasonal and nutritious wild food at its best.
To help illustrate exactly what venison means to us, we recently invited a group of devotees from the Guild of Food Writers to our butchery at Blaxhall to see for themselves exactly how a deer carcass can be transformed into the steaks, loin, shoulder, shanks and mince that define this versatile meat. Deftly demonstrated by Paul, our master butcher, twelve suitably-attired food writers watched on as he explained each precise cut of the knife, spoke of the animal’s life in the wild, and took time to show in detail how each joint is hewn from the beast and prepared for sale.
Naturally, it was only fitting that we asked the group of eager and, by now, hungry foodies to sample some of our fantastic wild fallow venison. To help us celebrate in style, we were delighted to welcome renowned wild food chef Gill Meller, of River Cottage fame, to the historic splendour of Bruisyard Hall, nr Saxmundham, to cook for us and showcase the venison in four outstanding recipes from his debut cookbook Gather.
Having assembled us in the beautiful kitchen at Bruisyard Hall and ably assisted by local chef Peter Harrison, Gill served up a masterclass in venison cuisine, showing us how to prepare and cook: venison tartare with pan-roasted oyster and wild garlic, seared fallow steaks with shaved cauliflower and smoked paprika, and a simply sublime stew of fallow shoulder, accompanied by nettle dumplings in a rich and satisfying stock, balanced with sweet-cured pancetta.
Local white wines from Shawsgate vineyard and cyder from Aspall provided the ideal pairing for what was quite an extraordinarily lovely lunch and, having learned of the sustainability of the venison and the detailed construction of each dish, the story became complete. Gill delivered a culinary triumph, appreciated by all, satisfaction etched onto the faces of our gathered food experts.
As we concluded what had been a memorable and educational day, Gill had one more surprise for us. Venison salami for one and all. To take home and cure and consume at our leisure. A bonus to what can only be described as the epitome of food demos.
Wild venison is in season and now trending thanks to chefs like Gill Meller. Help us at the Wild Meat Company to rejoice in its flavour and provenance!