Another choice for a holiday roast … the “new” venison Essay

Another choice for a holiday roast . . .

the “new’ venison It’s farm-raised, imported from New Zealand. Forget allthe techniques used on wild deer Once the prize of the hunter, venison is now ranch-raised in NewZealand and exported to selected Western markets. Red deer raised in New Zealand are much larger than deer found inthe West; the cuts are also much larger. Ranchers control theflavor–milder than lamb but more distinctive than beet–with a diet ofgrass and clover. There is no “gamy’ taste. The tendernesscomes from aging the mest in the same way beef is aged. Though deer ranching is growing rapidly in New Zealand, the venisonsupply here is still limited. Yet we have found it increasinglyavailable fall through winter in the West.

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Look for venison (usuallysold frozen) in meat markets and specialty grocery stores; you may needto ask the meat man to order it for you. Venison is expensive but has no fatty waste; you get more lean meatthan with most beef cuts. Expect to pay 2 to 2 1/2 times more per poundfor a venison saddle than for a standing beef rib roast. Here we suggest how to prepare the most available cuts. Thevenison saddle is the whole back of the animal, including the rib (rack)and loin sections; you can use either half for our roast recipe. Moreavailable smaller cuts include the tenderloin, rib and T-bone steaks,and–from the leg–medallions and cutlets. To cook imported venison, forget all the slow-cooking techniquesyou’ve used on wild deer. Ranch-raised deer meat is most tenderand moist when cooked quickly to rare at high heat.

In the oven, cookroasts at 425|; over direct heat, saute the smaller cuts. The pandrippings make a delicious start for sauces. Here we propose serving the saddle for Christmas dinner or anothergrand event. It’s as simple as cooking a beef roast, and makes avery elegant presentation. Venison Saddle with Port Sauce 1 bone-in venison saddle roast, rack or loin section (6 to 8 lb.

),thawed About 10 slices bacon 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) melted butter or margarine About 3 pounds yams, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch lengths 5 to 6 medium-size red apples 2 tablespoons lemon juice Port sauce (recipe follows) Trim all fibrous sinew off venision. Make 1-inch-long,1/2-inch-deep slits between rib bones on each side of the saddle. Cut 5slices of bacon into 1-inch pieces; insert a piece of bacon into eachslit. Drape 5 more slices of bacon across the saddle. Brush the bottom of a 12- by 17-inch roasting pan with 1/4 cup ofthe butter. Set venison saddle in pan with rib bones down; arrange yampieces around saddle.

Brush venison and yams with the remaining 1/4 cupbutter. Roast in a 425| oven for 20 minutes. Core apples and cut in half;dip cut surfaces in lemon juice. Add apples to pan.

Baste apples,yams, and venison with pan juices. Continue roasting until venisonregisters 135| on a thermometer in the thickest part of meat, 15 to 25minutes longer. Lift saddle to a board and set large pieces of bacon aside; letvenison stand 5 minutes, then carve as shown in steps 1 through 4 onpage 170. Place reassembled roast on a platter and top with bacon;accompany with the yams and apples. Keep warm while you use pandrippings to prepare the port sauce. To serve, pass sauce to spoon over individual portions. Serves 12to 16.

Port sauce. To drippings in roasting pan, add 1/3 cup mincedshallots, 3 cups port, and 1 1/2 cups regular-strength beef broth; stir.Boil on high heat, uncovered, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Turn heat tolow. Stir in 1 cup (1/2 lb.) cold butter or margarine in 1 or 2 chunksuntil butter is blended. Venison Saddle with Juniper Cream Sauce Follow the directions for preparing venison saddle with port sauce,preceding, but make these changes: Omit the yams and apples. Instead,after brushing pan with 1/4 cup butter, add to pan 5 or 6 large unpeeled onions, cut in half crosswise, and 12 to 16 small (2-in.

diameter)redskinned new potatoes, scrubbed. Brush the vegetables and the venisonwith remaining butter. Roast in a 425| oven until thermometer reaches135| in the thickest part of meat, about 45 minutes; baste meat andvegetables with pan juices after 20 minutes. Serve and carve as directed, but reserve pan drippings and use tomake juniper cream sauce, following.

Spoon juniper cream sauce over each serving. Serves 12 to 16. Juniper cream sauce. To drippings in roasting pan, add 2 cupsregular-strength beef broth, 1 cup each gin and whipping cream, 12juniper berries (slightly crushed), and 1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary; stir.

Boil on high heat, uncovered, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Mix 2tablespoons each cornstarch and water; stir small amounts into boilingsauce until thickness desired. Basic Venions Saute 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless venison such as whole tenderloin,medallions, cutlets, or bone-in rib or T-bone steaks, cut 1/4 to 2inches thick About 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 2 to 3 tablespoons each salad oil and butter or margarine Salt and pepper Reduced port sauce or juniper cream sauce (directions follow) Dredge venison with flour; shake off excess. Set slightly apart onwaxed paper. Heat 2 tablespoons each of the oil and butter in a 12- to 14-inchfrying pan over medium-high heat (medium heat for whole tenderloin).When fat is hot, fill pan with meat without crowding; cook until brownedon outside but rare in center (cut to test). Turn as needed and addmore butter and oil to pan to keep meat from sticking.

Allow 1 to 1 1/2minutes a side for 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick pieces; 2 minutes a side for3/4- to 1-inch-thick pieces; and 5 to 7 minutes a side for 1 1/2- to2-inch-thick pieces. If cooking a whole tenderloin, turn so all sidesare browned. Transfer cooked meat to a platter and keep hot; season with saltand pepper. Make port to juniper sauce and serve with meat. Makes 4 to5 servings. Reduced port sauce. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine 3 tablespoonsminced shallots, 1 1/2 cups port, and 3/4 cup regularstrength beefbroth.

Boil, uncovered, until reduced to 3/4 cup. Add to venisondrippings in frying pan (see preceding) and reduce heat to low Add 1/2cup (1/4 lb.) cold butter or margarine in 1 or 2 chunks, stirring untilblended. Reduced juniper cream sauce. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine 1 cupregular strength beef broth, 1/2 cup each whipping cream and gin, 6juniper berries (slightly crushed), and 1/4 teaspoon dry rosemary.

Boil, uncovered, until reduced to 3/4 cup. Add to venison drippings infrying pan (see preceding). Stir in a mixture of 1 teaspoon eachcornstarch and water. Photo: Whole roast saddle of venison, topped with bacon strips,goes with mellow port sauce, roasted yams, and apples for a splendidholiday dinner Photo: 1. To carve venison saddle, cut along both sides of thebackbone down to ribs Photo: 2.

Turn knife sideways; slice along rib bones towardbackbone to free loin Photo: 3. Lift loin off bones, set on board; carve into slices 1inch thick Photo: 4. Reassemble venison loin on saddle rack to serve

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