Much of the Scottish venison meat is from deer that roam freely, rather than being farmed. Good quality venison is tender, tasty and close textured, which means it’s easy to produce great recipe dishes.
Four species are used for food in Scotland: the red deer (iconic of the Scottish Highlands); the roe (the smallest and considered the best by many cooks), sika and fallow.
Meat from deer has been important in the human diet since prehistoric times. The term venison (from the Latin venari – to hunt) originally referred to meat from any wild animal.
For centuries, deer parks owned by European aristocrats have been used as a source of sport and high quality food. This concentration of valuable meat with access restricted to the elite few has long been a source of conﬂict between poacher and gamekeeper.
Deer are ruminant animals belonging to the family Cervidae. They are characterised by having antlers, rather than horns, and small, unspecialised stomachs. Instead of grazing on vast quantities of grass, deer tend to select easily digestible shoots, young leaves, fruit, fungi and lichens.
Venison has higher iron levels than any other red meat, contains omega 3 and omega 6 fats in approximate ratios of 1:2 and has less fat than a skinned breast of chicken.
Go for wild venison over farmed. The strength of ﬂavour and fat content can vary between sources so buying from a farmers’ market or trusted butcher will enable you to pick up cooking tips.
For a few days in the fridge (or longer if vacuum packed).
Preparing (avoid overcooking)
Compensate for the lower fat content, eg. use moist cooking methods by barding or marinating. Quality steaks and tenderloin can be pan-fried. Serving with a complimentary sauce is recommended.
Getting started – the kit you need
Working in partnership with Bushwear Ltd, BASC Scotland have developed a game meat preparation starter pack which is available from Bushwear at a special concessionary price of £50.00 (RRP £73.50).
The pack contains:
- Flex Board Set
- Mora Curved Boning
- 5 Disposable Aprons
- 10 Nitrile Gloves
- Mega Bowl
- 25 Small Bags
- Burger Mix
- Burger Papers
- Small Tray
- Demonstration and cookery DVD
- Freezer labels
- Marker pen
- Best practice guides
- Recipe cards