About two years ago I ordered my first full deer from a local estate. Being a little penny pinching (and relishing a challenge) I ordered it cut into three….my intention to butcher my own. “We’ll eat lots of venison” I told myself as I tackled the carcass with knife, hammer and finally reciprocating saw. Needless to say, almost a year later parts of Bambi still languished at the bottom of our freezer, save for the whole haunch which graced the Christmas table and a few joints which we used on a Sunday, convincing Grandma that she was actually eating beef.
However,the trimmings proved the most exciting. We made sausages, delicately flavoured with a little juniper and allspice, a terrine with dried figs and a port reduction, a plethora of ‘authentic’ medieval stews and a rather successful venison Bourguinion. However, sad and lonely, and losing flavour by the day, was the prime fillet which I had painstaking extracted intact. Fresh, it would have made a wonderful carpaccio but hindsight is a fine thing. Finally I decided to defrost and cook it, rubbed with a little truffle oil and seared in a hot pan. Turning my attention to accompaniments I looked to south-west France. There is a beautiful Perigordian potato dish which combines potatoes with goose fat, garlic, wild mushrooms and parsley – it smells autumnal and earthy and is perfect with the rare fillet along with a crisp salad dressed with walnut oil, a handful of diced walnuts and some crisp bacon lardons.
On reflection, perhaps it is worth ordering another this year? There is still the world of the game pie to discover, and cottage pie made with slow simmered venison is a real delight…and how about some venison scotch eggs with a side of vibrant piccalilli?
If you’d like to order your own Bambi I recommend my local supplier www.lydneyparkestate.co.uk or mail order from The Welsh Venison Centre www.beaconsfarmshop.co.uk