05 Mar Fire-Hung Wild Venison with Rum Salmuera, Chimichurri and Griddled Purple Sprouting Broccoli
This is a great dish to cook on a lazy Sunday when you have a good few hours to spare lovingly tending to a glorious haunch of venison, roasting over the crackling fire! In this recipe, the wild venison haunch is stuffed and tied and cooked slowly, the weight of the leg under the string should be enough to keep it spinning – although every now and again it will need a little helping hand with a quick twist of the wrist.
We’ve kept the stuffing of this leg super simple with a smattering of garlic and herbs but that’s not to say that the addition of some fiery n’duja wouldn’t make for a handsome kick of heat if you fancied it (whilst also helping to lubricate the joint). This recipe calls for an incredibly more-ish Rum Salmuera (a sort of Argentinean brine added to the meat as it is cooking, which adds moisture and seasons the meat to its core!). We serve the venison with griddled purple sprouting broccoli and a zesty, herby Chimichurri.
For ease of cooking on the day you can stuff the haunch, blanch the broccoli and make the chimichurri in advance so everything’s a touch easier on the day.
For this recipe, we used a beautiful leg from a roe deer that was merrily skipping round a field munching its way through a local farmer’s crops. Deer have a habit of decimating crops as they move through farmland nibbling away as they go. Having relatively small stomachs they need to feed between 8-12 times a day – now thats a lot of food!
Roe deer are often seen as both a positive and negative influence in the countryside. They can cause damage to young woodlands and agricultural crops, thus many landowners utilise the stalking of Roe deer and the sale of venison as a substantial supplementary income. It really is essential to balance the needs of a sustainable healthy population of deer with those of the environment.
So pull up a chair, pop the cork of a nice bottle of plonk and watch as the venison transforms before your eyes into a stunning roast for the family.
For the Venison Haunch:
1 Haunch of venison, thigh bone removed
3 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Venison Marinade (Salmuera):
80 ml Spiced rum
100 ml Soy
50 g Sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
20 ml Water
1 tbsp Salt
Bunch of rosemary
1 stick or wooden spoon
For the Purple Sprouting Broccoli:
A good salt
A good pepper
20ml rapeseed oil
For the Chimichurri:
½ bunch parsley
A few sprigs of oregano
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
A good drizzle of olive oil
1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of one lime
Salt and pepper
Preparing the Wild Venison
- Remove the thigh bone from your leg of venison (or ask your butcher to do it for you). The pocket we are creating by removing this bone is where we are going to place our light stuffing.
- Finely chop the garlic, rosemary and thyme, scatter this over the inside of the leg and season well with salt and pepper.
- Roll your joint backup and tie three strings around it to hold it nice and tight.
- Tie another string through the tendon and around the leg creating a loop that we can hang the leg from.
- So, time to make the Salmuera marinade, whisk all of the marinade ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.
- Tie the bunch of rosemary to a stick or to the end of a wooden spoon. We will use this brush to apply the rum salmuera to the joint as it cooks, creating a stunning glaze.
Cooking the Wild Venison (Over the Fire)
- Allow the venison to come up to room temperature so that it cooks more evenly over the fire.
- So now we have everything ready, it’s time to set our fire. Gather some nice dry tinder, kindling and a wheelbarrow full of logs. Light a fire in the base of a fire pit, once lit we are looking to create a wall of fire so build up a pile of logs to one side of your bowl raking some coals into a bed in the centre. In other words, we are aiming for a nice radiant heat from the pile of logs to cook the haunch indirectly.
- Rub the wild venison haunch with some rape seed oil and season liberally with salt and pepper, using the loop of string hang the haunch from a hook on a tripod over your fire. Carefully place your hand just in front of the venison, you need to be able to hold your hand there for around 10 seconds. If it’s too hot rake the fire away a little and if too cool a little closer. Place a cast iron skillet under the leg to catch any juices that drip from the leg.
- After about 15 minutes apply the first coat of salmuera marinade, using the rosemary brush. Do this every 10-15 minutes brushing the salmuera all over.
- Keep feeding the fire wall with logs to keep a consistent heat through out, checking that the venison is close enough by holding your hand in front of the leg for 10 seconds.
- The wild venison will need between 2 to 2 ½ hours depending on its size, an instant read thermometer is really handy to check if it’s done. We’re looking for a core temperature of 57.C for medium rare. Remove when the thermometer reads 50.C as the temperature will continue to rise as the meat rests.
- When you’re happy with the temperature of the meat, remove the wild venison from the tripod, place in a tray with any extra meat juices and cover with foil, allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Whilst the wild venison is resting rake the fire into a nice bed of coals and place a grill on top.
Preparing the Purple Sprouting Broccoli
- Blanch the purple sprouting broccoli in salted water for 3 minutes.
- After that, drain and refresh in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Drain again and dress with lemon zest, salt, pepper and a good drizzle of rapeseed oil.
- Grill the purple sprouting broccoli over a high heat turning frequently until charred all over.
- Remove the broccoli and toss back into its dressing.
Preparing the Chimichurri
- Finely chop the herbs and place in a bowl.
- Then, add the rest of the ingredients, season well and mix.
- To finish, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
To serve, carve the wild venison and place on a wooden platter with the broccoli and a good drizzle of chimichurri. Some freshly made flatbreads grilled on a hot plate over the fire (or directly on the coals) also always make for a great addition to any meal – you can take a look at the recipe here.
This recipe is designed to be cooked over an open fire, but if you’d like to recreate it between four walls, you can cook the recipe in a conventional oven at 220 degrees C for 15 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 180 degrees C and cook for 15 minutes per 500 grams, basting the meat every 15-20 minutes with the Salmuera.