Slow cooked leg of venison and why I’m thinking of sending my mum overseas.

Let’s face facts. Norway is not at the centre of gastronomic excellence. Many believe that all they know about is salting, sugaring and burying various kinds of fish and meat before digging it up again and eating it. Not the best calling card for a premium cooking reputation. However, there is another side to these weather hardened northerners. 

When it comes to game meat, they do know what they are about. I admit that there still is an amount of fish killing, burying and digging up, but let’s not focus on that for now. Let’s concentrate on Slow Cooked Leg of Venison with Trio of Vegetables. The Norwegian bit comes from the little packs you can see in the picture. They contain juniper berries and a mix of herbs and spices to rub on game before cooking (or burying if that’s your bag).

I was lucky enough to have had a leg of venison dropped off by my friend, the Wicklow Hunter. He assures me that it was acquired legally. Of course it was…

Leg of Venison

Everything you will need for slow cooked leg of venison. Yes! everything is in the picture, for once. Note the blue and green packs.

For those of with less of a visual sense, here’s the list:

  • 1 leg of young venison
  • 1 bottle of robust red wine
  • 1 pint of beef stock (look closely, I used a cube)
  • 2 or 3 onions
  • 4 or 5 carrots
  • 4 or 5 stalks of celery
  • 1 or 2 packs of Norwegian herbs, spices and berries.
  • Zest of half an orange
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First I rubbed the leg with the various herbs and spices, then I grated the orange zest over the meat.

Leg of Venison

The lovely leg of legal venison rubbed with berries herbs and spice, ready for the pot.

Then I chopped the vegetables. I left them nice and chunky. This trio is a cornerstone of Italian cooking, not that this has anything to do with this recipe.

Celery, carrots and onions

The supporting cast (literally as we stand the meat on them) of celery, carrots and onions.

I then added these to the pot and stood the meat on it. Then I poured in the wine (a 2009 Valpolicella Ripasso), reserving a generous glass for myself.

Leg of Venison

Use good wine. Don’t be an idiot and use wine that you would not enjoy drinking. Like I say, IDIOT.

I left it covered overnight as it only needed 9 hours cooking (Ha, only 9 hours!). The Wife turned the oven on to 100 degrees Celsius the next morning and popped the dish in, having added a pint of beef stock.

Leg of Venison

9 hours later. Just time to remove the leg and the vegetables and reduce the sauce by half.

Now I have to show you a couple of totally gratuitous meat shots. Vegetarians, avert your gaze. You should no be reading this stuff anyway, it’s bad for you.

Leg of Venison

I had to show you this one of the steam rising from the meat. It’s probably because I keep the kitchen too cold.

I know you want more….

Leg of Venison

Different angle and plenty of time to take a couple of shots as the meat needs to rest for a while.

“Show us one of the carved meat.” I hear you call…

Leg of Venison

Last one of the joint. I had to defend it from the pickers. I hate pre-plating pickers.

One for the vegetarians…

Leg of Venison with vegetables

Ignore the meat in the background and the fact that the veg was cooked under a leg of meat.

The veg remained quite al denté, despite the 9 hours cooking. It must be related to the oven temperature. Of course it is.

Leg of Venison

The reduced gravy was wonderfully tasty. There was lots of it. I mean lots!

Four of us sat down to eat this meal. The Wife and the mannerly guest only had seconds. Eldest daughter and I both had thirds. Eldest daughter had venison sandwiches the next day and Wife and I had a reheat too.

Side notes on Norwegian cooking: Two stand out dishes that don’t involve burying. 
1. Lutefisk: Cod conserved in caustic soda. It is cleared of the caustic soda by soaking in water for a day before it is set in the oven to cook. The caustic soda coagulates the proteins in the fish and the cooking results in a wobbly greyish-white product reminiscent of jellyfish. This is served with bacon, mushy peas and potatoes washed down with akavit and beer. My Norwegian sister maintains that lutefisk is essentially an excuse for drinking vast quantities of akavit and beer. It is usually served as a Christmas speciality.

2. Smalahovud: Sheep’s heads singed with a blowtorch and salted, later boiled and served for…you got it…Christmas! 

Oh, I nearly forgot. I want to send Mum back to Norway to get more herbs, spice and berries. She brought them back having visited my sister and family. Given my exposé of their cuisine above, I may not be too welcome over there for a while…

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  • Sounds great – even the Smalahovud 😉

    • You are more of a man than I MD. I draw the blowtorch line at Creme Brulée.

  • Outstanding photos. Love the rising heat! And the recommendation to vegetarians to avert their eyes. LOL 🙂

    • Thanks Jessica, I was pleased with the pics. The steam rising was more by luck than expertise. Such is life.

  • Amazing work Conor!

    • Thanks Justice. It was incredibly tasty.

  • Dnn’t worry Conor, we will exhume the deceased moose on your next visit. The longer it remains six feet under, the better it will taste, so it’s up to you………..

  • Fantastic photos! As usual…

  • And a tasty little fellow he was….

  • Great photos – as usual! I bet the venison was delicious. I love the gravy pouring shot — looks like the gravy boat is flying.
    What’s in the wildkruiden/viltkrydder?
    The veg still being al dente after 9 hours means that the cooking liquid probably never reached 80C, which is probably a good thing because that would have been too hot for the meat.
    Nice that you are using a ripasso, I love those. You are so right the wine should be good.
    A beef stock cube though, seriously? 😉

    • Thanks Stefan, the ingredients list “got torn” while I was opening it so from memory, juniper berries, sage, pepper, thyme, parsley and some random other berries. All very tasty. The stock cube is on the basis of “needs must”. The freezer is full with as much stock as Wife will allow. Chicken and recently added 4 pints of prawn (done to your recipe). There were a lot of prawns and additional shells and heads from my fishmonger.

  • I thought perhaps she had pissed you off and you wanted to damn her to a place that eats buried fish – LOL!

    • That could not happen. She is the best mother in the world. Funny enough, the buried fish is the least offensive of it.

  • Yes, it looks appetizing and am certain tasted great, BUT what if one does not have a mother to send to Norway to get ALL the requisite herbs and spices 😉 ? Silly Q, since I can’t find the venison either, legal or otherwise 😀 !

    • You will just have to call over to ours next time we’re doing it. There was plenty!

  • That picture of the venison leg covered in Norwegian herbs, berries and spices is the stuff dreams are made of. Seriously, that should be your Christmas card, if you’re into that sort of thing. Never cooked with juniper berries before, and the gin drinker in my is very intrigued, indeed.

    • Hi Tommy, It was very good and I am sure it would have been good with a few glasses of gin too!

  • Damn I was going to stun everyone with my lutefisk insight and you beat me to it. I watch a programme called Man v Food (if you haven’t seen it, that’s probably a good thing) and he ate it and nearly threw up, right there, on camera.
    I need a hunter friend (or whatever that chap is that dropped the leg off) what do you recompense him with – money, booze, advertising anecdotes?

    • I have seen the Man V Food a couple of times. All I see is an American gorging huge burgers or rolls covered in chili and working his way to an early grave. We are better than that over here.

      The Hunter is out this very night trying to down a doe for his Christmas dinner. I hope he succeeds. I have another leg riding on it. He gets no money, occasional booze and far too many advertising anecdotes. I will have to stop that.

  • Enjoyed reindeer steaks on a visit to Norway…perhaps shouldn’t mention that at this time of year. Juniper berries are wonderful with a gorgeous pungent smell. Perhaps your boxes also contained lingonberries as they are widely used in Scandinavian countries. The have a similarity to cranberries but are smaller.

  • I love venison and this looks like a perfect way to cook a leg. Love the steam coming off the veggies and the pour shot. Nicely done, as usual.

    • Thanks Richard. The Hunter is out again last night and tonight to try and get his Christmas dinner. Fog over Wicklow at the moment does not bode well. If he succeeds, I’m in for another leg.

  • Wow, it looks awesome. And if the photography is something to go by, it must have tasted awesome too.

    • One of the best I have ever done. Very happy with it.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Isla says: sheeps head sounds gross ewwww.

  • my venison leg will not fit in any pot i have, do you think using my large roaster would be the same?

    • Once it will hold the ingredients, has a lid and fit in the oven, you should be good.

  • Loved your post, the pictures and especially the humor. I was particularly interested in the juniper berries…we live in Northern Newfoundland and juniper berries grow on the hills. Wild game is abundant here–cod is not–and people here would be interested in your recipe. Great pictures.

    • Excellent. Not having cod is a benefit, if one does that sort of thing to it. A real shame if you can’t get it fresh. I’d love to have my recipe tried way up there. Thanks for visiting and for the nice words.

  • Awesome 😍 doing this right now! I don’t have Norwegian spices, so I just used thyme and rosemary in the paste with 2 heads of garlic and oil. Someone gave us two legs, so I have the other one slow cooking in homemade BBQ rub and BBQ sauce. 😁

    • Excellent Jenn,
      I haven’t had any venison since the Wicklow Hunter emigrated. A sad loss of a friend and a source of food!
      Thanks for visiting and for commenting. I appreciate it.
      Conor

  • do you have too you wine if not what else
    can be used

    • Beer, stout or even more stock, if one has reasons for not wanting to use alcohol. Though, all the alcohol evaporates in the cooking.

  • wete did you purchase your Norwegian packaged spices for your venison

    • Hi Barb,
      I am lucky enough to have a sister living in Trondheim. She sent me some, sadly, now all gone. I should ask for info and will reply to you again if I can get anything that would be helpful. Juniper berries are a staple in it. There is a deal of thyme also. If I could not get the packet, I would use pepper, juniper berries, thyme, rosemary, salt and some dried orange peel. That would work well. There are a lot of flavours going on in that dish and variation can only add to the fun of preparing it.
      Thanks for visiting,
      Conor

  • Great writing, so thoroughly enjoyed it! A lot to be said for Scandinavian flavors (my family is from Lapland). Venison is great and I’m always looking for new flavors, like this!

    • Here in Ireland, we really don’t know what to do with venison. Some of our woodlands are overrun with deer. Yet, they tend to be badly butchered and only sold in specialist shops. Though one can get the odd cut in some supermarkets the problem being it tends to be yust that, odd.

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