Venison is a lean red meat which is low in fat and full of flavour, it is fairly popular and widely available. The term venison used to refer to any wild game meat which had a fur coat but now is only the name for deer sold for meat in the UK.

In America, the term can mean meat from antelope, elk, moose, reindeer, caribou and deer. The meat is high in protein and full of B vitamins and is lower in fat than skinless chicken. The most common breeds in the UK are red, fallow and roe deer. The Chital, a spotted deer imported from Bangladesh can be cooked in the same way as British venison.

Where is venison farmed?


Wild, or park, deer as those which have been reared in herds which roam the parklands. Farmed deer can range from being organically reared or free range, to being raised in an intensive system. Farmed deer, due to its regulated conditions, is available all year round whereas wild deer’s availability depends on the breed. Wild roe deer can be found all year whereas red and fallow deer are in season from 21st October to the 15th February. There is not a whole lot of difference in the taste of the farmed and wild deer; farmed venison may be younger, milder in flavour and a bit fattier whereas wild could be tougher but more flavoursome. Most of the venison produced in the UK is from deer that freely roam rather than through intensive farming, this results in a finer quality of meat.

What to look for when buying venison


Cuts of venison are usually sold in portions, ready to cook. The meat should be a deep red colour with a close texture. There should be little fat on the cut but any fat there is should be white and firm, not yellow in colour or greasy.

How to cook venison


The meat is generally tender, the most tender cut is the venison tenderloin. Venison meat can be used in place of beef in many recipes, such as a beef wellington. The cuts that are tougher benefit from being marinated for a couple of days before cooking. Although you can cook it as you would beef, moist cooking methods need to be practised so the meat doesn’t dry out. The meat is very lean which means any overcooking can cause it to become dry and dull. To avoid this, venison fillets and steaks can be served pink as this ensures that it is not overcooked.

Venison works well when roasted but needs to be basted or barded. Popular cuts for roasting include: the saddle, loin, fillet and haunch (the leg). The haunch and shoulder of the venison can be cooked on the bone, or boned and rolled. Tougher cuts of meat are good braised or stewed, or even made into a mincemeat for burgers and sausages. Grilling, barbequing or frying venison is best with the loin, shoulder or haunch steaks. It is recommended that venison is served with a sauce. Flavours which complement the meat well are juniper berries, red wine, port and rosemary.

Venison Recipes: