GAME ON THE MENU!
When The Season Arrives, Venison Is One Of The Healthiest And Delicious Meats To Enjoy, writes food blogger Linzi Barrow
Quite a number of the local country pubs and restaurants will soon be starting to feature game dishes on their seasonal menus. Game in all its forms is substantially a seasonal product and for most Lancashire households it’s not something that features frequently in the average shopping basket. That’s a real pity as the Ribble Valley boasts some of the finest game landscape in the country and personally this is something that I would like to see change – if you haven’t experienced local game then you are missing out!
Since medieval times venison in particular has been seen as a food for the more affluent classes, yet with a little careful shopping, local venison can be bought for not much more, and in some cases less, than a similar cut of beef.
Venison is a healthy, low fat, well flavoured meat that can be used in a variety of dishes that are family friendly. I think a lot of home cooks are intimidated by game, because historically it was sometimes hung for long periods of time. But fear not most game nowadays is only hung for short spells, if at all.
So why not try substituting venison in a favourite beef dish? In my recipe this month that’s exactly what I have done, creating the perfect dish especially as the evenings start to cool slightly.
Deer poaching has been a growing problem in the last few years in the Ribble Valley, so please ensure that when you are purchasing any game it has come from reputable sources. A local butcher or game dealer will be able to tell you all about where their game is sourced and give you some hints and tips on how to cook it to get the best results.
The cut I have used in this recipe is a venison steak, beautifully tender with a slightly gamey flavour complemented with sloe vodka and mushroom sauce. If you can get hold of some fresh wild mushrooms they would be amazing in this dish.
VENISON STEAK STRIPS WITH A CREAMY SLOE VODKA AND MUSHROOM SAUCE
1 large venison steak – very thinly sliced across the grain
1 small white onion (or 1 large shallot) – finely sliced
100g mushrooms (ideally wild or chestnut mushroom) – sliced
Sloe vodka (or damson liqueur, brandy or similar) – generous splash
Crème fraiche – you can obtain Lancashire made
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Veal or beef stock (optional)
Rapeseed oil or vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
Start by frying off the onion in a little of the oil, do this over low heat as essentially you are aiming to soften the onions not colour them.
Once the onion is translucent add the sliced mushrooms to the pan, giving them a gentle stir until cooked. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan and retain on a plate.
Add a little more oil to the pan and turn the heat up slightly, to quickly seal the steak strips. You don’t want to cook the strips through as they are better pink and will be more tender. So quickly flash fry the strips, ideally so they have some caramelisation on the outside, this only takes a few moments. Remove from the pan to the plate.
In the same pan add a good slug of alcohol and over a medium heat deglaze the pan, next add a little paprika (about 1 tsp) and 2 tbsp of crème fraiche. Bring this to a gentle simmer adding stock or water to obtain your desired sauce consistency. Add the onions, mushrooms and venison back to the pan, stir into the sauce and you are ready to serve.
This dish can be served with baby roast potatoes, jackets or rice and seasonal vegetables.