A Strange Man in the Kitchen Means Venison Cooked Two Ways – Daub and Sous Vide.

Venison (19 of 21)I arrived home from work last Friday evening to find a strange man in our kitchen. Actually, it was my hunting friend Brendan. It’s not that he’s strange per se. It’s just that I wasn’t expecting him and I certainly wasn’t expecting him to have two beautiful cuts of venison as a gift for the Wife and I. He reminded me that he had promised to drop some in at some stage after a shoot. The promise to “drop some in” is one made often by hunters as a way of ending conversation with greedy non shooters. It leaves everybody’s dignity intact and is not a promise that anybody expects to be kept. I understand this and, recognising myself in the latter description accepted the promise for what I believed it to be worth. 

However, Brendan is made of finer stuff than the average hunter. A promise made is a promise to be kept. So, I felt obliged to do proper justice the two fine pieces of meat. The conversation around the hunt was fascinating for me. Two perfect specimens had presented themselves in Brendan’s sights. He hadn’t taken either shot. He is a responsible, licensed hunter. Neither were safe. On the encounter with the third (a young Sika deer), conditions were right and you know what happened next.

Brendan assured me that the carcass had been hung well for five days. The haunch and lower leg cuts were beautiful.

Venison meat

Two different cuts. Two different processes in the offing.

This called for some culinary creativity. I decided to cook the haunch sous vide for 6 hours at 56ºC. Having looked online, I could find no definitive guidance and settled on what I thought would be right for such a lovely piece of meat. To add a bit of flavour, I cooked it with juniper berries, rosemary, thyme and a load of seasoning.

Venison ready to cook sous vide

The beautifully presented meat was perfect. Those are juniper berries, not buckshot BTW!

I vacuum sealed this and put it in the water bath.

Vacuum sealed venison

A bit of butter never did any harm in the sous vide. Did it?

While the haunch was cooking, I prepared the daub. First I had to remove the meat from the bones.

Venison leg

This was a beautiful piece of meat. Look at the colours!

This took me about half an hour to complete, using a very sharp boning knife. I get as nervous as the deer should have been when using this. I don’t get a lot of practice.

Venison meat in cubes

Meat sliced and trimmed and me intact. That was a good outcome.

To cook the daub of venison, I needed a few ingredients as follows:

  • 800 grammes of venison meat (for that is what there was)
  • Half a bottle of robust red wine (the balance of the bottle for the chef)
  • 4 beef bombs (Home made highly concentrated beef stock)*
  • 5 or 6 shallots
  • 6 cloves of garlic or 3 single bulb garlics
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Half a tablespoon of flour
  • Salt and pepper to season

*Use a pint of good stock instead and be prepared to do a bit more reducing.

First, I seasoned the flour in a plastic bag, then adding the venison and shaking to cover.

Seasoned venison

It looks like polar bear meat.

I fried the meat, in batches, until brown on all sides.

venison meat frying

It was very tempting. I had to resist snaffling some right from the pan.

I chopped the garlic and shallots. When it was browned, I removed the venison and reserved. Next, in went the garlic and shallots and I fried them very gently until they caramelised and looked a nice brown colour.

Garlic and shallots frying.

Yes, it’s a lot of garlic. A lot of garlic is a good thing.

Remove and reserve. Turn the heat up and add the wine. Deglaze the pan. Bring this to a rolling boil, to remove any alcohol. Add the ‘beef bombs’

Venison (10 of 21)

These are so handy and pack a kick like a deer. A live deer that is….

I added back the venison, garlic and shallots, then added the bay leaves. I stirred and let this lot thicken. Then I wedged in the bones. They had plenty of flavour to add.

Venison bones stewing

Lots of flavour to be extracted from these beauties.

I placed a lid on and turned the heat down to its lowest setting. Leaving it this way for about an hour and a half to two hours, stirring occasionally. I did add a little extra water as it dried out a little too much.

Daub of venison

Daub is such a descriptive word for a really thick, flavour packed stew like this.

I removed the bones and got ready to serve the daub.

I removed the haunch from its plastic bag. I then heated a frying pan, adding a little oil and browning the haunch on all sides. It was cooked and only needed this for a bit of caramelisation and decorative purposes.

Venison haunch

Browned on all sides. It almost looks overcooked…

I carved the haunch and served it with a generous spoonful of daub.

Venison sous vide.

Perfectly cooked. I like it rare. Fine meat like this is rare enough…

We served it with the daub, some puréed parsnips and tiny carrots.

Venison

This was the finest venison I have ever eaten. Bar none.

The daub was rich and unctuous.The wine, garlic and shallot sauce added a wonderful flavour. The haunch was literally “melt in the mouth” with lovely herb and juniper notes throughout. It was a fantastic meal. Undoubtedly the best venison we have ever tasted. Both the daub and sous vide were exceptional. I would gladly (and hope to) cook either again. Thanks be to goodness Brendan is both a good shot and a man of his word. I for one really appreciate both.

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  • Oh, that is fabulous, my mouth is watering. I was vegetarian for a long time and fell of the wagon so to speak when presented with shot rabbit, pigeon and deer – eat my veggies and I will eat you is the motto round here. Haven’t eaten venison for a long time – not since my friend the gamekeeper retired – I miss it.

    • I got a text from Brendan. He was delighted to see that we were having such an influence on a vegetarian, even a former one. Thanks for that.

  • Both those dishes look amazing!

    • Thanks MD,
      I had such fun cooking it. Either would have been fantastic on their own. Together, they were brilliant.

  • That looks amazing Conor. I love the contrast of the two cuts of meat and cooking styles.

    • Thanks Donna. It is not what I might consider doing ordinarily. But, Brendan doesn’t call every day!

  • Rotten man, to publish a post like this when I have just got in from 5 hours of waiting in dreary airport lounges, flying in claustrophobic aircraft, being served ‘light refreshments’ I cannot eat, offered coffee I cannot (and would not in any case) drink, and getting home ravenous enough to eat nails. That header photo… I nearly wept. On the menu tonight in Chiconia is boiled egg and gluten free toast soldiers. I shall fantasise about venison, and it’s your fault.

    • My heart bleeds for you Kate. I have a US trip coming up at the end of the month. That will involve a lot of what you describe. There is little wrong with a nice boiled egg though…

      • Yes, I imagine it will, but I hope you will not be quite so hungry by the end of your journey! The soft boiled free range egg and soldiers hit the spot…

  • That looks superb, I can almost smell it from 397 (approx.) miles away. You’ve got me checking Ryanair flights again. What a generous friend and what a generous cook to serve both together like that. Lovely.

    • It was the only option really. It’s funny what puts the ideas into one’s head. I read somewhere about restaurants keeping their costs down by doing things like ‘Lamb Three Ways’ and serving a sliver of loin, a daub of daub and a more generous piece of rump. Not that I was trying to get the prices down, it cost me nothing. Three ways might be a good way to go for a future post. However, if it’s to be venison, it will have to wait. The season ended on the 29th Feb.

  • If I could only have one, I’m not sure which I’d pick! Maybe the daub – that rich sauce looks exquisite. But both look so expertly prepared. You’re very talented Conor! Have you ever checked out Stefan’s sous vide guidelines on Stefangourmet.com? He’s done a lot of experimentation over the years, and I always use his time and temps. I trust them more than what is suggested in recipes.

    • Thanks Mimi,
      Far too kind of you. Any expertise I have is from trial and error and from pouring over Stefan’s site. He really is the Master when it comes to these things. So many of the recipes err on the side of caution and almost guarantee that meat will be overcooked. This is so true of conventional as well as sous vide cooking.
      Best,
      Conor

  • The meat looks so tender and delicious! I love this dish!

    • Hi Claudia,
      You are so good to comment. It was pretty special, if I say so myself. Last of the season for me too. A great way to end it.
      Best,
      Conor

      • Thank you so much! I always like to stop by and have a look what you`ve been cooking … ~ Claudia

  • Any day with a game meat surprise is an amazing one! Delicious.

    • Hi Shanna,
      Reflecting on my own behaviour that evening when Brendan arrived taught me a bit about myself. My grumpy self getting out of the car wondering “What problem am I going to be embroiled in now?” could not have been more wrong. Thanks be to goodness (and to Brendan)!
      Best,
      C

  • That looks lovely, Conor. Isn’t it a treat tho, to have a hunting friend or two in your sphere who likes to share. I remember talking about that with you a while back, when I was grilling up some venison. I find I’m gaining quite the appreciation for wild game in my advancing years, and for those who share with me! You did great on this one. May Brendan make many more such house calls for thee!

    • Thanks for that Pit Master. It was a lovely surprise and got my enthusiasm going straight away. The Wife asks me why I do so much work at the weekend. I do it because I love it.

      • And that’s a man passionate about his meat!

        It is much fun. You’re right.

        Take care, Conor!

  • A damn fine looking piece of meat indeed… A so beautifully treated! 👌
    Nice work Conor.

    • Thanks indeed. I felt an obligation to Brendan to do a good job. I should have extended the obligation by inviting him over to share it. My bad!

      • Yeah really. Kindly remind me not to bring some venison over for you! 😜😜😜

      • You also owe an obligation to the donor animal to treat its bounty with respect.

        Plus, if you invited Brendan over to enjoy the fruits of his success, maybe he’d donate a bit more often?

  • Since I cannot access venison too easily here, you can imagine my current envy! Beautiful, Conor! Well, I don’t ‘sous-vide’ but that daube really looks out-of-this-world – I can just imagine the depth of the flavour!! Shall copy the recipe and try to make it work with other ‘gamey’ meats. Shooting – I was taught early in the piece that doing so for a thrill was totally immoral but shooting for the pot ‘culling’ the available herds totally justified. Agree. Lucky you to have likeminded friends . . .

    • Very lucky Eha. The daub would work pretty well with beef, or ostrich, or even kangaroo, I’m sure. The idea of shooting for fun repels me completely.

  • Absolutely beautiful, Conor, and a brilliant idea to cook both methods and serve together. You did Brendan justice (well, except for forgetting to invite him over to share…). So whereabouts are you headed at the end of the month in the vast U.S. of A. at the end of the month?

    • Hi Kathryn,
      I am heading over to New Jersey for a couple of days work and then onwards to Toronto to spend a bit of time with my youngest. I am pretty excited at the prospect. I hope all is good with you.
      Best,
      C

      • All is well over here, thank you! I hope you have a great time with your family. 🙂

  • What a feast, Conor! Brendan will surely be bearing similar gifts when he returns, given the thoughtful way you prepared these. Just look at that header shot!

    • I promise to make space at the table for him next time. I really should have had him over. It was very good of him and the end result was lovely.

  • Well, now I have many more options for when my husband, David, comes home with fresh deer meat!

    • Hi Debbie,
      Do post it when you cook it. There are not too many good venison recipes out there. I know you would do a great job.
      Best,
      Conor

      • Perhaps he will get one in the fall and I can give it a try… 🙂

  • Both preparations look great, Conor. Great job on the boning. Not sure though if I should feel insulted that you couldn’t find any “definitive” guidance on sous-vide time and temperature. I do have a post about the very same cut on my blog. Isn’t that definitive enough for you? 😉

    • My lack of finding is more my fault than yours. I did have a look through the site and then made the mistake of going elsewhere. There is a lot of nonsense advice out there.

      • You can always ask 🙂 I actually get texts from friends on a regular basis asking for sous-vide time and temperature advice. Or wine pairing advice.

  • I love venison. So rich and gamey that it takes on really bold flavours well. Your dishes look really good but your sous vide caught me eye! Do you use it a lot? Other than for meats, what else do you use it for? I’m thinking of getting one…

    • I use the sous vide about once a week. It does fantastic meat, as you can see. It also produces truly delicious fish, in very little time. I have used it for winter vegetables like parsnips, turnips, carrots. It does a fantastic job. Sous vide parsnips finished off in the oven (to crisp them on the outside) are a real treat. My only advice is: Get one!

  • Lovely post Conor, I can almost smell it from here (Cabinteely).
    I used to work in a hunting lodge and would have to make the “beater’s stew” for all the beaters after a shoot. All the gnarly bits and pieces and probably plenty of shot! The equivalent of sous vide in those days was time, and plenty of it. Only the paying ‘guns’ got served the prime cuts and I can only hope they looked as good as yours.

    • That is the way of the hunt. It is a pretty hierarchical structure. I fancy I would prefer to be with the beaters, enjoying the stew and spitting the shot into the grate.

  • Oh God. I should know better than to read this stuff at work. I know it’s almost quittin’ time on a Friday but after the drooling started it quickly became clear that building services would have to be called. Now they’re roaring for a carpet shampooer and it turns out my computer wasn’t waterproof either. Thanks deer.

  • Both look so very tasty, it’s impossible to choose… Love the addition of the bones on top of the stew. Clever idea! 🙂

    • Thanks for that and for visiting. They do add a nice bit of extra flavour concentration. A pretty tasty one, if you will forgive my boasting.
      Best,
      Conor

  • I prepared this recipe for only the haunch exactly as described. My haunch was between 4-5 pounds and the 6 hours sous vide was perfect. I finished it by searing it on the grill outdoors. It was perfect! Thanks for sharing!

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