Before I tell you all about the venison, I want to send out a thank you to Heidi Kenney, who mentioned the always fantastic Fraiser's Cheaters on the Christmas cookie page of her blog, www.mypapercrane.com. So far, this has generated 58 hits. Amazing.
We had the venison on Christmas night. I ran it to earth at Eastern Market, when I went up there to buy the ingredients for the Danish Liver Pate. I asked one of the butchers at Union Meats about venison, also deer liver, which is needed for Deer Liver Pate. Deer liver does not seem to be available locally, unless you happen to know someone with a 30-06. Union Meats does not carry venison, but when I turned around and surveyed the poultry place across the aisle, I saw a small cooler off to the side labeled venison.
Be warned. Venison is not cheap. This particular piece cost $27 a pound. But, hell, Christmas comes but once a year, so into my shopping bag went three pounds of frozen venison. I had wanted to make Venison Supreme, which appears in the New England section. Imagine my disappointment when at some point on the 23rd, I actually looked at the recipe for Venison Supreme and discovered it was covered in pastry. Pastry, not being gluten free, was nixed and I moved on to the South, where I discovered this recipe from the great state of Tennessee.
I must confess, I did not use a spit, not having one easily to hand. It was more oven roasted. I also didn't have juniper berries, which used to be sold by Spice Islands. Or crushed sage, or fresh rosemary. However, it all came out fine, regardless. We had a terrific Christmas dinner, which was much less complicated than the one the year before. Christmas afternoon was spent dismembering a pumpkin for pumpkin soup. For dessert, we had a store bought plum pudding. When I told my husband that I could have made one, he pointed out that I always said I hated plum pudding. I didn't see what that had to do with it. I could have knocked off another recipe. But no.
But even without the fresh rosemary, the crushed sage and the juniper berries, the venison was good. I advise all of you carnivores to try it next fall.
Spit Roasted Saddle of Venison
1/2 cup wine vinegar
2 carrots coarsely chopped
1 onion chopped
3 sprigs parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
10 juniper berries
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed sage
1 five-pound to six-pound saddle of young venison
1 bottle dry red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
cranberry and horseradish sauce
1. Day before, combine the vinegar, carrots, onions, parsley, garlic, juniper berries, rosemary, and sage. Bring just to a boil and pour the mixture over the venison. Add the wine, salt and pepper and let stand overnight.
2. Next day, drain the venison and wipe it dry, reserving marinade. Sprinkle venison with salt and pepper. Place on a spit and roast, basting with the marinade, until dark brown on the surface and rare within. This will require about thirty minutes to one hour, depending on size of venison and proximity to the heat. Serve with cranberry and horseradish sauce. Serves ten to 12.