Venison is the name given to any of the species of deer sold as meat in the UK. The lean, red meat is low in fat and full of flavour and has become popular and widely available. Deer can be classified as wild deer, park deer (reared in herds that roam parklands) or farmed deer (rearing varies from free-range to intensive). The most common varieties of deer in the UK are red, fallow and roe.
There is little difference in taste between wild and farmed deer, although farmed venison is more likely to be younger, a little milder in flavour and perhaps slightly fattier; wild venison may be slightly tougher but more flavoursome. Farmed venison is available all year. Wild venison is also available almost year round, as the different species have different seasons.
Venison can be substituted for beef in most recipes. The most popular cuts for roasting are the saddle, loin, fillet and haunch (leg). Because the meat is so lean it needs careful cooking; quick roasting is ideal. Tougher cuts (shoulder, neck and shin) should be braised or stewed or made into mince for venison burgers or sausages. Non-native imports include chital, a spotted deer that's imported from Bangladesh, and can be cooked in the same way as British venison.
Article by Louisa Carter
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