Another choice for a holiday roast . . . the “new’ venison
It’s farm-raised, imported from New Zealand. Forget all
the techniques used on wild deer
Once the prize of the hunter, venison is now ranch-raised in New
Zealand and exported to selected Western markets.
Red deer raised in New Zealand are much larger than deer found in
the West; the cuts are also much larger. Ranchers control the
flavor–milder than lamb but more distinctive than beet–with a diet of
grass and clover. There is no “gamy’ taste. The tenderness
comes from aging the mest in the same way beef is aged.
Though deer ranching is growing rapidly in New Zealand, the venison
supply here is still limited. Yet we have found it increasingly
available fall through winter in the West. Look for venison (usually
sold frozen) in meat markets and specialty grocery stores; you may need
to ask the meat man to order it for you.
Venison is expensive but has no fatty waste; you get more lean meat
than with most beef cuts. Expect to pay 2 to 2 1/2 times more per pound
for a venison saddle than for a standing beef rib roast.
Here we suggest how to prepare the most available cuts. The
venison saddle is the whole back of the animal, including the rib (rack)
and loin sections; you can use either half for our roast recipe. More
available 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 techniques
you’ve used on wild deer. Ranch-raised deer meat is most tender
and moist when cooked quickly to rare at high heat. In the oven, cook
roasts at 425|; over direct heat, saute the smaller cuts. The pan
drippings make a delicious start for sauces.
Here we propose serving the saddle for Christmas dinner or another
grand event. It’s as simple as cooking a beef roast, and makes a
very elegant presentation.
Venison Saddle with Port Sauce
1 bone-in venison saddle roast, rack or loin section (6 to 8 lb.),
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 5
slices of bacon into 1-inch pieces; insert a piece of bacon into each
slit. Drape 5 more slices of bacon across the saddle.
Brush the bottom of a 12- by 17-inch roasting pan with 1/4 cup of
the butter. Set venison saddle in pan with rib bones down; arrange yam
pieces around saddle. Brush venison and yams with the remaining 1/4 cup
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 venison
registers 135| on a thermometer in the thickest part of meat, 15 to 25
Lift saddle to a board and set large pieces of bacon aside; let
venison stand 5 minutes, then carve as shown in steps 1 through 4 on
page 170. Place reassembled roast on a platter and top with bacon;
accompany with the yams and apples. Keep warm while you use pan
drippings to prepare the port sauce.
To serve, pass sauce to spoon over individual portions. Serves 12
Port sauce. To drippings in roasting pan, add 1/3 cup minced
shallots, 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 to
low. Stir in 1 cup (1/2 lb.) cold butter or margarine in 1 or 2 chunks
until 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 venison
with remaining butter. Roast in a 425| oven until thermometer reaches
135| in the thickest part of meat, about 45 minutes; baste meat and
vegetables with pan juices after 20 minutes.
Serve and carve as directed, but reserve pan drippings and use to
make 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 cups
regular-strength beef broth, 1 cup each gin and whipping cream, 12
juniper berries (slightly crushed), and 1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary; stir.
Boil on high heat, uncovered, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Mix 2
tablespoons each cornstarch and water; stir small amounts into boiling
sauce 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 2
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 on
Heat 2 tablespoons each of the oil and butter in a 12- to 14-inch
frying pan over medium-high heat (medium heat for whole tenderloin).
When fat is hot, fill pan with meat without crowding; cook until browned
on outside but rare in center (cut to test). Turn as needed and add
more butter and oil to pan to keep meat from sticking. Allow 1 to 1 1/2
minutes a side for 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick pieces; 2 minutes a side for
3/4- to 1-inch-thick pieces; and 5 to 7 minutes a side for 1 1/2- to
2-inch-thick pieces. If cooking a whole tenderloin, turn so all sides
Transfer cooked meat to a platter and keep hot; season with salt
and pepper. Make port to juniper sauce and serve with meat. Makes 4 to
Reduced port sauce. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine 3 tablespoons
minced shallots, 1 1/2 cups port, and 3/4 cup regularstrength beef
broth. Boil, uncovered, until reduced to 3/4 cup. Add to venison
drippings in frying pan (see preceding) and reduce heat to low Add 1/2
cup (1/4 lb.) cold butter or margarine in 1 or 2 chunks, stirring until
Reduced juniper cream sauce. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine 1 cup
regular strength beef broth, 1/2 cup each whipping cream and gin, 6
juniper berries (slightly crushed), and 1/4 teaspoon dry rosemary.
Boil, uncovered, until reduced to 3/4 cup. Add to venison drippings in
frying pan (see preceding). Stir in a mixture of 1 teaspoon each
cornstarch and water.
Photo: Whole roast saddle of venison, topped with bacon strips,
goes with mellow port sauce, roasted yams, and apples for a splendid
Photo: 1. To carve venison saddle, cut along both sides of the
backbone down to ribs
Photo: 2. Turn knife sideways; slice along rib bones toward
backbone to free loin
Photo: 3. Lift loin off bones, set on board; carve into slices 1
Photo: 4. Reassemble venison loin on saddle rack to serve