In the last article on simple game cooking, we looked at feathered game and why it offers great meat to cook with. This is only one of many types of game that you can harvest and cook yourself.
In this article, Euan Ross Highland Game‘s sales and marketing manager talked to me about the importance of eating venison and its place in your simple game cookbook.
Like most game meats, venison’s great taste is matched by its health benefits.
As one of the top game processors in the UK, Highland Game knows exactly what makes it so healthy. Euan Ross said: “Wild venison is low in saturated fat and is one of the lowest cholesterol meats. Wild venison contains one per cent fat, which is substantially less than alternative red meats. It’s high in protein, mineral-rich and free from any additives.”
Did you know that a single serving provides a third of the recommended daily allowance of iron, while beef provides less than a quarter? Venison is also high in B vitamins.
Eating venison isn’t just good for you though, it’s also good for the planet.
Buying and eating game underpins the sustainable management of the UK’s deer population. Euan Ross explained why this is so crucial: “Given natural predators are no longer part of our UK eco-system, not eating venison means that Britain’s population of deer will continue to grow unchecked.”
Exponential growth in deer populations is damaging to other fauna and flora, and simply hunting or culling deer isn’t enough. As Euan Ross pointed out, if the meat doesn’t go to the plate, carcasses could be left to rot: “Rotting food is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, not eating wild venison meat from culled deer would increase emissions, and, more importantly, would see this nutritious food source go to waste.”
So eating venison is an all-round good thing, but how and where can you buy it to be sure it is of good quality? “The secret to great tasting venison is ensuring it is properly sourced and prepared. This way you can guarantee it won’t be tough, coarse or strongly-flavoured – ‘gamey’,” said Euan Ross.
The UK has a variety of deer species, each with a unique taste and texture; however, options for buying venison are limited.
“Red and roe deer are native to the UK, but we also have large numbers of sika, fallow, muntjac and Chinese water deer.
“Due to the nature of our trade, the appetite in retail is predominantly around red deer due to the carcass size, yields, etc. Export markets in Europe on the other hand tend to offer opportunity for the likes of roe deer, due to the meat’s more delicate flavour,” Euan Ross explained.
However, if you do want to try venison, it is available in the UK, even out of season, through many major supermarkets or directly from a game dealer or butcher.
Unlike feathered game, venison takes a little more know-how and kit to butcher at home. If you do want to learn how to take your own venison from field to plate, you can learn how at a BASC carcass and butchery course.
Once you have your venison, cooking the meat can be as simple or advanced as you like.
Highland Game has a few tips on what dishes you can prepare with venison. Euan Ross shared some with me: “Wild venison is a delicious, flavoursome, and succulent rich meat. Its flavour profile makes it the go-to meat ingredient for casseroles, stir-fry, curries, and pasta dishes including lasagne, ragu and meatballs.”
Now, that you know the importance of eating venison, check out some of Highland Game‘s go-to recipes below.
(Use your favourite dips or relishes for added taste!)
Serve with chips or a pile of mixed vegetable crisps.
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