Mary Perrot, 1695
A haunch of venison is a glorious thing and very evocative of grand dining halls and long trestle tables of feasting lords and ladies. It’s also very straightforward to roast – you could simply follow the cooking times and temperatures for beef – but it is important to bear in mind that, venison is extremely lean in comparison, which means it can be prone to drying out if the heat is too harsh.
A great many of the old manuscript recipes I’ve read opt to slow-cook venison in wine and butter under a coarse paste of flour and water to keep all the moisture sealed within. However, I’ve selected this recipe because not only is it very straightforward, but you can also choose how elaborate you wish to make it: a simple, unadorned roast or embellished with a savoury herb stuffing.
I liked the two unusual details which address the potential problem of drying out your joint: brushing with beaten egg-white and then basting with cream. The egg-white seals the joint as it cooks and the cream contains just enough richness to keep the outsides moist, and then caramelise into a richly-flavoured sauce.
Roast Haunch of Venison
1 boneless haunch of venison
1 large egg-white
1 litre double cream
1 bunch mixed herbs – parsley, rosemary, thyme, winter savoury, pennyroyal, etc.
100g soft white breadcrumbs
50g fresh suet
5 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped finely
3 large yolks
- Mix the ingredients for the stuffing into a smooth paste and season with salt and pepper.
- Unroll your venison and spread the stuffing mixture over the inside of the meat.
- Re-roll your joint and tie firmly with butcher’ twine.
- Weigh your stuffed joint and calculate the cooking time. If you like your venison medium-rare, then just 10 minutes per 500g is sufficient. For medium-well, you should calculate at 15 minutes for every 500g. For something inbetween, select something between these two times.
- Whisk the egg-white and paint over the outside of the joint, making sure the whole surface is covered. The egg-white will cook quickly and form a protective seal, thereby helping the joint to retain moisture.
- Put your joint onto a rack in a roasting tin. If you don’t have a meat rack, slice 2 or 3 onions in half and arrange, cut side down, in the middle of the tin. Arrange your joint on top of the onions.
- Put your roasting tin into the oven and turn the heat to 200°C/180°C Fan, Gas Mark 6.
- After 15 minutes, open the oven door and pour over the cream. Baste the joint every 15 minutes until done. If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature should range from 52°C (rare) to 60°C(medium).
- Remove the joint and wrap in foil to rest for 20 minutes. Add a couple of tea towels or a hand towel for etra insulation if you think it might take longer to bring all the elements of your meal together.
- Remove the onions, if using, and season the cream and meat juices left in the pan to make the sauce.