An invasive species originating from China, introduced in the UK in early 20th century. Now widespread, particularly in South and Central England. Increasing numbers of road accidents caused by muntjac and overgrazing of woodland floors are two main concerns.
With no close season and a very manageable sized carcass, they are an ideal deer species for home cooking. In general, muntjac’s meat is sweet and not overly strong, making it perfect for family meals. Below are two recipes for two different cuts of meat.
Muntjac steak with watercress pesto and garlic toast
Steaks cut from muntjac loin are perfect for this nibble recipe. Munties are not the biggest of animals so a sharing approach works well. Any leftover pesto is great as a marinade for BBQ or pasta dishes.
- 250g muntjac loin
- 15g butter
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 small baguette (200g)
- 4 garlic cloves, whole
- 1tbs dried thyme
- 130g watercress
- 1 handful parsley leaves
- 75g pine nuts, toasted
- 75g parmesan, finely grated
- olive oil
- vegetable oil
- ½ lemon
- salt and pepper
- Remove the steak from the fridge and allow to warm to room temperature.
- Make the toasts ahead of time by slicing the baguette into ½inch-thick rounds.
- Heat the oven to 180°C. On a baking tray, toss the baguette pieces with 3 crushed garlic cloves, dried thyme, 3tbs olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix everything well to get the garlic and herb flavour all over the bread.
- Place the toasts in the hot oven and cook for 6 minutes, shaking the tray carefully halfway through. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside when bread is crisp and golden.
- To make the pesto, combine watercress, parsley, the last garlic clove, 50g pine nuts, 50g parmesan, 5tbs olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse together until combined. Alternatively, you can chop the watercress and parsley and crush together with the other ingredients using a pestle and mortar.
- Add juice of half a lemon and check seasoning (if slightly too thick, stir in a dash of olive oil).
- Heat a heavy frying pan over a high heat for the steak. Season the meat with salt and add a dash of vegetable oil to the pan.
- Cook the steak for 2 minutes on each side then add in the butter and rosemary.
- Remove from the heat and allow the meat to rest in the butter for a minute before transferring to a plate. Leave it to rest for further two minutes and then slice into thin pieces.
- To serve, spread some watercress pesto onto the toasts. Top with a slice of muntjac and a dash of pesto. Scatter remaining pine nuts, parmesan, and watercress on serving platter to garnish.