New Zealand venison is one of the healthiest – and most delicious – red meats you can eat and top chefs are now featuring New Zealand venison on the menus of some of the world’s finest restaurants. With no natural predators, besides hunters, wild deer populations in New Zealand have reached almost destructive levels in the native forests and hunters are encouraged to help themselves, so venison can be found on the dinner table year round. Wild venison is extremely low in fat (when was the last time you saw a pudgy deer?) and naturally free range and organic. Deer have recently been farmed in New Zealand for its meat, and the industry prides itself in exporting free range venison, raised in wide open pastures, that features a slightly less gamey taste than its wild counterparts.
How to Prepare Venison
Venison, whether farmed or wild, is naturally very lean so needs to be prepared with care to avoid turning it into a tough, dry tyre.
For prime cuts, like back steaks (also known as back strap), all you need to do is butterfly chops, season with salt and pepper, and add some chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, etc.) if you’re feeling posh and sear quickly on the BBQ. The classic flavour pairing with venison is berries (cranberry and blueberry work well) and dried juniper berries, which is what gin is made from, if you want to serve a sauce on the side.
For all other cuts, a venison casserole makes a filling winter meal. In a slow cooker, combine chunks of venison, small chunks of onion and carrot that have been lightly sautéed, cranberry sauce or chutney (preferably one of NZ artisan made Provisions chutneys), a generous swig of red wine and quality beef stock to cover. Throw in some fresh herbs and dried juniper berries if you have it. Let that cook on a low temperature for at least 5 hours for a hearty stew.
Venison is also delicious as Bambi burgers, sausages (often mixed with mutton or pork fat), or in a gourmet meat pie
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