Eat locally AND seasonally with Eat Feed Autumn Winter by Anne Bramley, including recipes like Honey-Ginger Carrot Parsnip Latkes with Crème Fraîche; Parsnip Soufflés; and Venison with Cranberry-Port Relish.
Venison is perhaps the most popular kind of game still enjoyed today, and with good reason. It's versatile, fairly easy to come by, and offers a leaner alternative to its barnyard cousin, beef. This recipe blends the earthiness of rare venison with a traditional accompaniment of tart cranberries spiked with a splash of another taste of delicious Olde England: port.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a small saucepan, gently heat the port. Do not let it reach a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the currants. Set aside to soak.
Mix together the juniper berries, thyme, pepper, salt, and olive oil. Let steep for 10 minutes to meld flavors. Brush evenly over the venison. Arrange racks in a roasting pan facing each other so that the bones interlock and each rack has as much surface area exposed as possible. Roast until the internal temperature is 125°F for rare, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the racks. Remove from the oven and transfer the racks to a serving platter to rest for 15 minutes. Tent with foil.
Drain the currants, reserving the port. Set the roasting pan across 2 burners on the stovetop. Turn each burner to medium-high. Add the port and beef broth to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any brown bits as you stir. Bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cranberries and brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are soft and you have a relish consistency, about 7 minutes. Add the currants.
Carve the venison into chops by slicing between the ribs. Serve with the relish.
Extra! Extra! If you end up with any leftovers, make cold venison sandwiches. Many of the components of the meal make great sandwich toppings for venison: Stilton, cranberry sauce, watercress, and horseradish.
In Renaissance England, aristocrats complained that commoners enjoyed too much venison and had degraded the status of the once noble food. When they were busy dismantling the class structure over dinner, pasties were one of the favorite celebration foods enjoyed by the proles. One seventeenth-century fictional shoemaker who trod the stage circa Shakespeare dreams of a party at which "venison pasties walk up and down piping hot like sergeants, beef and brewis comes marching in dry-fats, fritters and pancakes come trolling in in wheelbarrows."
The hunted deer prances through the whole history of English love poetry, not to mention romantic banter of a more quotidian variety. Hart is another word for deer and is repeatedly deployed, for better or worse, as a pun for heart.
This page created November 2008
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