Posts Tagged ‘venison’

Tasting Exotic Meats From South Africa

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Earlier this year, we were contacted at Steenbergs Factory by someone asking us whether we had any sausage seasonings.  The answer to which is yes, however they then asked us whether we had anything that would go with kangaroo, which was not what we had been anticipating.  Anyway we sent them samples, but intrigued I investigated who they were and it transpired that Osgrow sold a range of exotic meats, having grown out of being an ostrich meat importer. 

I do not know whether readers remember the days when ostrich was all the rage and we were all being told that its meat was leaner and richer than beef etc, but then there were various financial scandals of the Ponzi scheme style and the industry disappeared into the ether.  Well, Osgrow seems to have started as the industry in the UK become dust and has created a neat little niche for itself.

It has taken some time for me to pluck up the courage to purchase, however we have done that now and received a well packed polystyrene container within 2 days of ordering online.  That is decent service and the meat was vacuumed packed and the container had one of those freezer cubes in it to keep the temperature down.  After much consultation en famille, we had gone for the Safara Grill Hamper for £47.75 (containing  2 x 125g wildebeest steaks,  2 x kudu steaks, 2 x eland steaks, 2 x springbok steaks and 2 x crocodile tournedos), plus 2 ostrich steaks (£6.99) and 2 more springbok steaks (£5.75).  A gripe I would have is that we ordered the extra springbok steaks as they were not stated as being in the Safari Grill, but on the upside we did not get the bison steaks (which I can get locally in Yorkshire) receiving wildebeest instead, so on balance we were satisfied, I suppose.

Kudu Steaks From Osgrow

Kudu Steaks From Osgrow

Frying Springbok Steaks

Frying Springbok Steaks

Tasting Crocodile Meat

Tasting Crocodile Meat

We tried the game over a few weeks in time and our tasting notes are as follows:

Crocodile: white flesh with a texture akin to shark or tuna.  Relatively flavourless and bland with a taste close to shark, a sort of very mild chicken taste with a slight hint of fish, which we guess is because of its water-based lifestyle.

Cooked Crocodile Steak From Osgrow

Cooked Crocodile Steak From Osgrow

Eland: this is a sweet type of venison, but I found it had an unpleasant almost sour-milk-like aftertaste, but Sophie quite liked it and preferred it to the springbok.

Kudu: this is a sweet, meaty type of venison without any overpowering meatiness.  The flesh has a relatively soft easy bite.  This is the family’s favourite with three out of four scoring it top.

Springbok: gamier flavour than the kudu and without any of its sweetness, but without the richness of a British venison.  Soft texture.

So of the venison and crocodile, kudu was the preferred choice.  However, I must admit that it did not taste as good as when I have eaten it in South Africa in the past; I do not know whether that is a case of the ambience and setting not being quite right or whether (as I suspect) that the meat is perhaps not as good as it could be.  I think that the venison from the UK tastes much better and is more authentic.

Finally, we taste tested the wildebeest and the ostrich steaks.  These were once again fried in a small amount of melted butter.  The wildebeest tasted of tough beef steak, which was really disappointing, whereas the ostrich steaks were really good – meaty, flavoursome and velvety in texture.

Overall, I would not buy the exotic game meats again as I did not think they were especially special and would recommend that you buy a British venison from a good producer like the Clutterbucks at Hornby Castle or from Holme Farmed Venison.  I would, however, buy ostrich again as those steaks were really good and would also work well in a casserole.

Simpler Venison Casserole Recipe

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Having gone through the fuss and carry on of marinading venison in stock per the previous post, I wondered why you do not just make a stew in the normal way as you would for beef or lamb.  Also, I still had some of the Hornby Castle venison in the fridge that had been newly defrosted.

One of the issues I reckoned was the fact that venison is quite lean and so might dry out during a long slow cook.  I overcame that by frying up some chopped streaky bacon and using that as extra fat that would keep the venison moist throughout the cooking process.  Finally, to ensure a melt-in-your-mouth experience when eating, I still cooked the venison casserole for a decent and long time.

Another little trick that I used was to cook in beer.  It is cheaper than wine, feels much more genuinely British and local than wine and its flavour profile is much more subtle than the wham, bham, smack in the face of claret.  Beer often has a pleasant sweetness and spicy overtones that go really well with meat; in this case, I used a bottle of Innis & Gunn Original from Edinburgh, which suggests that it is a “smooth Scottish beer with hints of toffee, vanilla and oak”, plus it was not as thick and treacly as many full on real beers, with a paler hue that I felt would work well.

The end result was a delicious, succulent and meaty stew, full of meat that felt soft and velvety in the mouth.  Delicious and better than the marinaded version from earlier, plus a lot easier.

How to Make Axel’s Venison In Beer

675g / 1½lb diced venison, 3cm / 1 inch cubes
1tsp lard or butter
100g  / 3½oz streaky bacon, cut into 3cm / 1 inch long squares
1 dessertspoon sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme (from garden or 1 tsp dried thyme)
3 – 5 juniper berries, lightly crushed
3 black peppercorns
200ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup beef stock (once again I used a prepared beef stock from Truefoods)
75ml / 2¾ fl oz / ¼ cup light beer

Frying The Onions, Celery And carrots For Venison Casserole

Frying The Onions, Celery And carrots For Venison Casserole

Firstly, I cooked the streaky bacon in a small amount of lard in a frying pan until it was crispy, then transferred these to a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish.  Then, I browned the venison in the same frying pan; when this was completed, all the venison, juices and fats were transferred to the casserole dish.

I wiped the frying pan clean, then added the sunflower oil and fried the onion pieces until translucent, which takes about 5 minutes under a low heat.  When translucent, I added the celery and carrot slices and fried it all for another 2 minutes.  After this, everything was transferred to the casserole pot.

All the rest of the ingredients were added into the casserole pot and stirred.  The stew was heated to boiling then the heat reduced to allow the sauce to bubble gently away with the lid off.  The casserole should be cooked like this for about 3 hours.  It should not dry out, but if needed top up with some more of the beer.

Casserole Before Being Cooked For 3 Hours

Casserole Before Being Cooked For 3 Hours

Venison Casserole Three Hours Later

Venison Casserole Three Hours Later

Serve the venison casserole with mashed potato and shredded cabbage.  I actually used a sweet potato-normal potato mash in the ratio of 1:3.

Venison Stewed In Beer

Venison Stewed In Beer