We are very fortunate in having friends who have access to wild venison but don’t like it! This means that we are sometimes recipients of generous pieces to cook. On this occasion it was a leg of Red Deer that had already been boned out and tied. We have had some real success in slow roasting venison as a pot roast, something we tend to do especially when we are unsure of the age of the animal. This piece however looked to be from a young animal and so we were going to try what is really a hot roast over liquid. We adapted the recipe from an American site called Field and Stream. This is a very simple recipe that uses an initial marinade (what they referred to as a ‘wet rub’) overnight followed by a couple of hours roasting and basting at 180C.
To make the marinade we combined the rapeseed oil, thyme, garlic, rosemary, crushed juniper berries, salt, and pepper into a spreadable paste. The venison was put into a vacuum food bag (the sort used for sous vide cooking) though a ‘ziplock’ bag would do too. Once inside the bag the paste was rubbed all over the meat. The bag was then vacuumed and sealed and the meat was placed in the fridge overnight. The advantage of this method is that you need less marinade and it seems to work more effectively.
The meat was removed from the fridge several hours before the cook started to return to room temperature. The Big Green Egg was set up for indirect cooking at 180C. Just before adding the meat a little beech wood was added as a smoking flavour. The meat was sat on a metal trivet over a roasting pan containing 2 onions that had been quartered, and a little warm water. The important thing here is that the meat sits out of the water, but also that the water is not left to evaporate as it will be the basis of the sauce.
We were trying out the new MEATER block which has 4 (numbered) temperature probes that wirelessly monitor the temperature of the BBQ oven and the core temperature of the meat. For curiosity we placed one in the thick and one in a thinner part of the meat. (More on the MEATER block in a future post). The venison was left to roast over the water in the trivet undisturbed for about an hour. At this point the meat was turned over and around 150ml of concentrated beef stock was ladled over the meat and it was left to roast for a further 45 minutes or so till the core temperature approached 50C. The meat was turned over again and a further 150ml of concentrated beef stock was ladled over the meat. The joint continued to cook until a core temperature of around 55C was reached in the thicker area of the meat. Interestingly, having multiple temperature probes in the meat just revealed what an art the judging of core temperature is. There was a 10C difference between the probes (confirmed with a separate instant read Therapen) and this reflected the thickness of the meat in each area. The message here is very much to remove the meat from the heat when the thickest area reaches 4-5C below the final required temperature (55-60C for Medium Rare, 60-65C for Medium). The leg was double wrapped in aluminium foil and left to rest (we actually let it stand in an oven at 50C for more than an hour).
The liquid left in the roasting pan was poured into a separate pan leaving the onions in the roasting try to use later. To this was added a large slug of Madeira, mixed with just a little cornflour and the juices from the resting venison. This sauce was reduced to the consistency required and then sieved ready for use. The venison was sliced and served with sautéed potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, highlighted with the Madeira sauce.
This was a really beautiful dish, with the softest and most flavoursome venison. Beautiful served like this but also as we found the following day, delightful when served cold with warm sourdough bread and a little mayonnaise.
If you manage to get hold of a nice leg of venison do give this a go. It gave the sort of result that might just convince those who don’t think they like game just how wonderful venison can be.
Roast Boned Leg of Venison
- For the marinade
- Rapeseed oil
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 8 crushed juniper berries
- Maldon salt
- Ground black pepper
- For the roast
- Whole boned venison leg
- 250ml concentrated beef stock
- 2 onions quartered
- 1tsp cornflower
- Step 1 To make the marinade combine the rapeseed oil, thyme, garlic, rosemary, crushed juniper berries, salt, and pepper into a spreadable paste.
- Step 2 Put the venison into a vacuum food bag and once inside the bag rub the paste over the meat. Vacuum and seal the meat then place in the fridge overnight.
- Step 3 Remove the meat from the fridge several hours before starting the cook. Set up the BGE for indirect cooking at 180C. Add a little beech wood to flavour the smoke. Sit the meat on a metal trivet over a roasting pan containing 2 quartered onions and a little warm water. The meat must sit above the water. Leave the venison to roast over the water undisturbed for about an hour.
- Step 4 After an hour turn the meat over and baste with 150ml of stock. Leave to roast for another 45 mins till the core temperature approaches 50C. Turn the meat over again and baste with a further 150ml of stock. Continue roasting
- Step 5 When the core temperature reaches around 55C remove the meat and double wrap in aluminium foil and leave to rest for at least 20 mins
- Step 6 Pour the liquid from the roasting pan and any accumulated meat juices from the meat into a separate pan. Thicken 50ml of Madeira with cornflour and add to the pan. Reduce the sauce and sieve into a serving jug
- Step 7 Serve with potatoes and vegetables in season