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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I know you want more….
“Show us one of the carved meat.” I hear you call…
One for the vegetarians…
The veg remained quite al denté, despite the 9 hours cooking. It must be related to the oven temperature. Of course it is.
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…