Venison: red meat for the health-conscious

Venison is becoming an increasingly appealing meat. Low in fat, tasty and the ultimate in free-range meats, venison is a healthier alternative to beef and lamb as a weekend roast or winter dinner option.

Keep it moist

Because of its low fat content, venison has to be cooked in a way that retains some moisture. This means very slowly or very quickly, depending on the cut, and requires a degree of skill to get the right results.

Stews or casseroles are popular options, as the venison becomes tender and flavoursome with subtle cooking at a relatively low temperature. A shin or boneless shoulder is perfect for this kind of cooking. Venison goes well with root vegetables like parsnip, carrots and swede, and with mushrooms. Flavour with a little juniper berry and all-spice.

Haunch steaks are excellent grilled or, even better, barbecued. Cook quickly at a high temperature retaining a little pinkness. If anyone wants their meat well done, try to persuade them otherwise, as venison steaks do not respond well to overcooking. Redcurrant jelly and mild mustards are excellent accompaniments.

A haunch of venison makes a superb roast. Brown the meat first before roasting the haunch, Some cooks prefer to braise a haunch with red wine and perhaps some bacon lardons to keep the meat moist.

Minced venison can be shaped into burgers or meatballs that are healthier than their beef or pork equivalents. Mix the meat with breadcrumbs that have been soaked in milk, to bind the burgers and to keep them juicy.

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