Venison is the term used to describe the meat produced from various species of deer.
It is a highly nutritious and tasty meat the consumption of which has increased in the UK by as much as 50% in the last 5 years!
Why it has taken so long for the British public to take to venison may be as a result of an entrenched view that it is a food for the wealthy. However now that this misapprehension appears to have been laid to rest many are finding that not only is venison a great tasting meat but it is also a healthy substitute for other meats such as beef, pork and lamb.
Of all the main sources of red meat sold in the UK venison is in fact the lowest in calories, cholesterol and fat and typically has less fat content than a skinless chicken breast!
Other health benefits include being high in B12 & B6 which prevent the build up of a dangerous molecule in the body called homocysteine. It also has a high iron content and high levels of riboflavin which can help prevent migranes. In addition to this venison is also high in niacin (Vitamin B3) which helps prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.
Not bad in a meat that is 100% sustainable and free range! A fact which also means it is free from hormones, steroids and additives that can often be found in farmed meat sources.
So what about its flavour? In the UK Venison comes from one of six species of deer the most common is Red which is the largest species of deer. Many people who have eaten venison in restaurants will more than likely have been eating venison from red deer which often comes from park deer or deer shot in Scotland. To my mind this is to miss out on some of the very best alternatives to red deer venison.
At County Deer Stalking we produce venison from Roe, Fallow & Muntjac deer. Unlike red deer Fallow, Roe and Muntjac have a sweeter less gamey flavour and are finer in texture.
Indeed the fine texture and sweet flavour develops in order: Red, Fallow, Roe and finally Muntjac. This will of course depend to a degree on the length of time for which the meat has been 'hung' however as a rule Roe and Muntjac in particular have a less 'gamey' or 'liver' tasting flavour than fallow and particularly Red.
At County Deer Stalking we produce 3,000 - 5,000 lbs of venison every year. The majority is sold locally to Butchers however perhaps a quarter of the venison produced is retained by the client or guest that has been responsible for dispatching the beast.
I am a strong advocate for my stalking guests purchasing their animals as this offers them an excellent opportunity to sample the different species of venison available. Indeed many who love the taste of venison more than likely will never otherwise have the opportunity to sample venison from species such as Muntjac or Roe which are not normally introduced in to the main stream market as their smaller size often deems it uneconomical to do so.
It also allows the stalker the opportunity to select the animal that he wishes to consume based on age, sex, condition and species. Where else do we get the opportunity to play such an active part in what we consume?
In order to encourage this process at County Deer Stalking we will always offer our clients the opportunity to purchase the animal that they have shot and we do so at the same whole sale prices that we would otherwise obtain from the butcher. By stalking and shooting with County Deer Stalking it is possible therefore to purchase an entire carcass at trade rates currently just £1 per Lb larder weight.
Personally I am always delighted to see a client take away the animal that he or she has shot, for me it is the epitome of responsible and ethical meat eating as there can be no better relationship between a person and food than to have been responsible for the whole process of taking a food source from its natural environment all the way through to having it on your dinner plate!