This is a recipe for Venison Haunch Sous Vide. It is also a plea for Ireland to fix the venison supply chain. There are reputable suppliers. But, it still operates in a bit of a grey market with significant poaching a nod and a wink being good enough to get meat into the system in many cases. To prevent confusion, I will write my supply chain gripes in bold italic and the recipe in plain text. Though, the relationship between my struggles to prepare a decent recipe and messed up supply chain is obvious to me and should not need to be separated. However, for those looking for a recipe and not interested in a gripe, I separate the two.
For this piece of deliciousness, you will need the following.
Ingredients (feeds six+)
- 2 small venison haunch joints (boned and rolled)
- Bunch of thyme
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 500ml of great beef stock (mine is concentrated and fits in that small jug)
- 250ml of good red wine
- 2 shallots
- 2 beetroot
- 1 celeriac
- 3 parsnips
Season the venison loins with the salt and pepper. Sit the thyme on top and vacuum seal in a bag.
Pop it into a water bath at 55ºC/130ºF for a couple of hours. I did mine for two and a half.
Do this with some poor quality venison and you could end up with what looks like undercooked, tough, fibrous meat that will really disappoint your guests. If you are unlucky to get meat from an old/male beast, you will need to cook for far longer to get a chance of a decent result. I wouldn’t attempt it, if I thought the meat came that way. Most people buying through butcher shops have no way of knowing.
Peel and cut the winter vegetables into bite size pieces. Season and roast (for about 20 minutes) until done.
I recently paid the same price as one would for prime steak for “Venison Steaks” The packaging was very professional and I was buying from a reputable butcher. I felt reassured. When I opened the packet to cook a meal for two, I got three pieces of meat, one steak and two “bits”. No self respecting butcher would do this to a customer. Why is this OK for the venison supplier?
Make a nice sauce to go with this. Dice the shallots and fry in a little oil until translucent. Turn down the heat. Add the red wine and the bag juices from the venison. Gently heat until just boiling. Add the beef stock and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce by about two thirds. Strain and keep warm. While this is happening, brown the venison on a frying pan. Taste and season. Carve the venison and serve with the winter vegetables. The red wine sauce goes particularly well with this.
I recently declined to buy some venison fillet. By weight, it was almost twice the price of beef fillet. This seems ridiculous to me. The beef would have to be reared and fed by a farmer, then dispatched before butchery. There is a significant expense in this. The venison will have been hunted and shot with no rearing expense. The hunter needs his cut as does the butchery, distributor and retailer. But the significant expense of growing the beast is not there. Why is venison so hugely expensive?
The venison was melt-in-the mouth. It had a lovely gamey/meaty flavour. This is how venison should be.
I get my venison from a number of sources. Two are friends who are licensed hunters. I am lucky to be in their good books and on their distribution lists. They are not allowed, under their license, to sell the meat to me. The third and fourth are reputable butchers who stand over the quality of what they sell. I just wish I could feel completely confident when buying venison. I suspect if the supply chain was less opaque and it was not priced as an exotic meat, the market would warm to it.
I do understand that there are many well meaning and professional people working in the Irish venison supply chain. But, until consumers can depend on consistency of quality, availability (not withstanding seasonality) and price, it will remain a minority product for those of us lucky enough to know a hunter or two or for those of us prepared to take a chance.
We live in hope.
StefanGourmet | 9th April 2019
Hi Conor, yet another post that is a joy to read and watch.
Your supply chain gripes would make a great case study for an economy class. Is it the lack of competition due to barriers to entry, lower supply than demand, or other factor that determines the high profit margin?
You make a good point that the cooking time for venison can vary with the age and sex of the beast, although loin should usually be tender even from older or male animals. I believe this cut is called backstrap in the US.
You also mention haunch, which I believe is an upper leg / rump cut rather than loin?
I am a stock fundamentalist, and would use venison stock for the sauce rather than beef stock.
Conor Bofin | Author | 10th April 2019
Thanks for the support for the post Stefan. I didn’t think it would get much traction being a local Irish issue. I have one more haunch post to do before we are too far away from the end of the season. These were actually haunch cuts. Very tender from a young animal. Were I in a position to share your fundamentalism, I too would have used venison stock. However, I had some beef in the freezer.
The backstrap cut is eye-wateringly expensive here and hard to find.
Mad Dog | 10th April 2019
That looks delicious! I think the price is too high in the UK too, but in the same applies to wild rabbit, unless you come across someone like girl I go to, in the farmers’ market and stalls like that are hard to find.
Conor Bofin | Author | 10th April 2019
Thanks MD. It really is a very simple preparation. You are right in your observations around rabbit too. It is almost impossible to get rabbit that is not French here, unless you know a guy with a gun and permission to shoot on some land.
Eha | 10th April 2019
An interesting read. Another bit up the ‘learning curve’. Easy to read but impossible to comment from Down Under. But just having said ‘hello’ to you on Instagram thought to say, as far the recipe goes, how tempting I found to see the use of beetroot and celeriac . . . shall see which protein will fit . . .
Conor Bofin | Author | 10th April 2019
The mix of beetroot, celeriac, parsnips and sweet potatoes is delightful with any “winter” meat. The mix of colours, flavours and plants guarantees on a couple of the required five (or is that seven) a day.
chef mimi | 11th April 2019
It is definitely called backstrap here in the US. A lovely post with mouth-watering photos, as usual. By the way, did you happen to catch my post called “Searing?” I discovered the gadget thanks to your suggestion regarding the sous vide cookbook. There’s a search on every page of my blog, but it’s probably http://www.chefmimiblog.com/searing
Ron | 11th April 2019
Great sous vide post and one I’ll be trying when our wild deer are harvested in the fall. I’m surprised at the lack of control of your wild game meat supply chain. I guess we’re lucky here as our wild game for the market is only hunted in the royal (government) forest by professional hunters and strictly controlled by the government. Now with that said it’s bloody expensive. It’s always higher than prime beef. However, it’s also good to have a friend that hunts and shares.
Karen (Back Road Journal) | 13th April 2019
When we lived in New England, we could count on our friends who hunted to give us wonderful deer meat. To get venison here in Florida, I would have to order it online from a company that farm raises deer. Your venison looks perfectly cooked and delicious.
kathryninthekitchen | 26th April 2019
Hi Conor, This recipe has all my favourite vegetables & flavours, and sous vide is a prefect cooking method for venison. Delicious and one I have tucked in my “favourite file’ to cook this Winter.
I was surprised and sad to hear the challenges you are faced with in Ireland re procuring quality venison. Deer is farmed in Australia and I assume the DeerIndustry Association provides some assurances to those of us who enjoy this meat.
Conor Bofin | Author | 26th April 2019
I sometimes despair at the shoddy supply chain. Then a hunting friend shows up at the door with some well hunted and dressed meat. Then all gets back into balance. Until the next time….
moozi | 1st September 2021
Mouth watering photos lovely way to capture it .
You explain it in very well way