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23 October 2012

Where the wild things are – now is the time to enjoy fresh venison

© The Artisan Food Trail / Lisa Childs
Over the past few years Venison has risen in popularity, partly because it is healthy, being low in cholesterol and very lean and also because it has a superb flavour and texture.
It is easy to cook, the steaks can be treated the same as you would for beef and a little goes a long way in casserole dishes.

Man has been eating meat from deer since prehistoric times where it played a very important part in the human diet. The word venison is actually a broad term which originates from the Latin venari – to hunt and originally referred to meat from any wild animal.

For centuries venison was the preserve of the aristocracy when deer parks were set up to be used as a source of sport and superior quality food. Having such a concentration of valuable meat, which could only be accessed by the elite, meant there was always conflict between the poacher and gamekeeper.
Fortunately it is available to all of us now and the enjoyment of venison isn’t dictated by our lineage!

The flavour and texture of venison is superb and as long as the deer are wild and free to roam their natural habitat, their diet has a major influence on the meat. Instead of grazing on huge amounts of grass, their diet is far more varied containing easily digestible shoots, young leaves, fruit, fungi and lichens.

Not only is venison very tasty it is good for you too. It has higher iron levels than any other red meat, contains omega 3 fats and less fat than a skinned breast of chicken.

  • When buying venison try to choose park (free-range) or wild venison over farmed.
  • Venison can be stored for a few days in the fridge or longer if vacuum packed.
  • Cook venison as you would beef. It is best to compensate for the lower fat content – for example marinating before cooking will help the meat stay moist.
  • Good quality steaks and tenderloin can be pan-fried but try to avoid overcooking – they are best served pink in the middle. Casseroles need to be cooked long and slow.
  • Flavours that marry well with venison include juniper, gin, red wine, port, rosemary and redcurrant.

We have included a recipe for a rich and warming venison casserole on our blog and you can view it here

The Artisan Food Trail is proud to have a producer selling Wild Scottish Venison.
The Blackface Meat Company supply three species of venison – Red Deer, Fallow Deer and Roe Deer – all of which are wild and are available to buy online direct from them.

Sourced in the main from West Highland stalking estates. The Reds roam free and subsist on highland vegetation, giving the meat its renowned gamey flavour. Red stags are in season from July 1st to October 20th. They are in their best condition in early September. The Hinds (females) are in season from October 21st to February 15th.

The Fallow deer is a parkland deer, which is sourced from parkland herds in the North of England. Its size is half way between the Roe and Red in size, and is a grazing deer. The Fallow have the same seasons as the red deer in Scotland.

The Roe deer is abundant in Dumfries and Galloway. It is a browsing deer, eating a wide variety of tree shoots, and herbage. This is reflected in the delicate flavour of the meat. The Roe is in season all year round in Scotland.

To find out more about The Blackface Meat Company visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here

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