Venison is a top piece of meat which, for me, conjures up a sense of nostalgia for the Highlands, Queen Victoria and hunting stags.
It is wrapped up in romantic notions and is the epitome of Scotland, in the same way that haggis and smoked salmon are.
However, when it comes to cooking it at home, venison can seem like quite a daunting challenge for the uninitiated and the mystery thickens when it comes to working out the difference between the cuts.
But there is no need to be afraid because you can do the same things with venison that you do with beef, it has the same bits and cuts that you would find on a cow, they just have different names.
When it comes to cuts, you need to ask your local butcher for help and advice. I would get sustainably farmed venison and I’d definitely go for the haunch, shoulder or neck cuts.
What I love about venison is that it is lean, it cooks quickly and it is rich in flavour. It’s also a meat that you can throw strong flavours at, it loves mushrooms, root vegetables, garlic, red wine, peppercorns and vinegar and will just absorb these flavours, making an even better final dish.
Venison is a lot less hassle to cook than people think and there are so many things that you can do with it. It’s fantastic for braising and it’s a beautiful piece of meat to cook with as it is so clean and fresh. If I were not eating beef or lamb and I wanted something new and a bit funky I would go for venison.
You can mince it and make burgers that will blow your socks off. You can also make a venison stew by throwing it in with some root vegetables, mushrooms and red wine and, if you let this cool, you can put a lid on it and make a venison pie. You could even add it to the potatoes, parsnips and pears that I have written about in previous articles and create a fantastic dish.
Venison is a grand meat that’s worth investing in. It’s gorgeous and, for a couple wanting to go out for a meal, it’s a really romantic dish. You can forget your beef, chicken and duck, in a lovely candlelit restaurant I would always go for venison and the Scottish stuff is the best in the UK.
It’s absolutely gorgeous so, given the time of year, why not try a romantic and different choice of meat?
Venison is a term that is used to describe deer meat but, did you know that the word originally referred to meat from any animal that was killed during hunting?
Here are 10 more fascinating facts that you might not know about venison.
1 Deer are part of the Carvidae family and are closely related to moose, reindeer and elk
2 Red deer are the largest wild animals in the UK
3 A baby deer takes its first steps within half an hour of its birth
4 For centuries European aristocrats used to own deer parks which were used as a source of sport and high quality meat
5 Venison has a very low fat content and a lower rate of cholesterol than most cuts of beef, pork and lamb
6 Reindeers are the only species of deer in which both male and female grow antlers
7 Venison has been an important part of the human diet since prehistoric times
8 The word venison comes from the latin verb venare, meaning hunting
9 A serving of venison contains just 174 calories along with 49% of your recommended daily allowance of protein, 22% of vitamin B6, 36% of vitamin B12, 17% of iron and 32% of zinc.
10 Venison works really well with juniper, gin, red wine, port, rosemary and redcurrents.