‘Wild Irish venison is one of the most sustainable red meats you can eat’

Taste of autumn: How to make venison with beetroot and hazelnuts

‘I cook venison as I cook lamb, pan frying it with herbs and butter.’ Photograph: iStock

‘I cook venison as I cook lamb, pan frying it with herbs and butter.’ Photograph: iStock

 

Autumn brings forth an abundance of stone fruits, mushrooms, squash and game birds of all kinds, and of course, one of my favourites: venison. From September 1st to December 31st, male fallow, sika and red deer can be shot (though the season for females is November 1st to February 28th, and Kerry is the exception to the above where red deer are protected).

Not that I’m going shooting. I once went wild duck shooting and managed to miss everything. An old man, seated in a chair, shot everything I missed. At least I got to cook the duck after the shoot. There is something elemental about plucking and gutting a bird.

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Deer, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish. Eamon Giblin, based in Co Clare supplies us with game. But there are many other suppliers around the country and they need your support. Did you know that wild venison is one of the most sustainable red meats you can eat?

How to make venison with beetroot and hazelnuts

One of my favourite ways to serve venison is with beetroot and hazelnuts. There is something resolutely autumnal about this pairing. I cook venison as I cook lamb, pan frying it with herbs and butter. I think it’s best served medium rare, but you can take it to medium if you wish. Anything more is pointless as venison is very lean and will end up tasting like leather if cooked too much. 

For the beetroot, you can salt bake them whole or make a purée. For the purée, take five large beetroot, peel them and then add 250ml of apple juice and enough water to cover them. A star anise is nice for a little liquorice flavour, but feel free to add any aromatics or herbs of your choice. Simmer, and when the beetroot is soft, blend with enough of the liquid to make a smooth purée. Season with sea salt and some nice sherry vinegar. Butter can be added if you wish. The hazelnuts only need to be lightly roasted. 

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