October heralds the arrival of game, and here, in the South West of England, we have access to lots of it writes Sandra Tate …
I love most game (but draw the line at hare, for emotional reasons) but venison tops my list for flavour and versatility. You have cuts suited to slow cooking (and these are usually diced) as well as the tender areas of haunch, rump and loin. The latter deserve to be served pink, or they will be dry and tough. For those reasons I decided to cold smoke my small joint of venison rump and to then roast it briefly in a conventional oven. And so I salted it with herbs, then marinated it, and cold smoked it in preparation for cooking.
For the overnight salting I chose to use a minimal amount of salt, a mere 10g, which I mixed with some finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, and a finely chopped clove of garlic. I rubbed this mixture into the surface of the 500g piece of venison rump and placed it in a snug fitting, resealable food bag, and left it overnight in the fridge. On day 2 I rinsed the joint thoroughly and patted it completely dry on kitchen paper. I then prepared a marinade of more finely chopped rosemary (about a tablespoon), a clove of well crushed and chopped garlic, and the leaves of a sprig of thyme, mixed into a paste with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper. The venison rump was coated in the marinade, covered, and returned to the fridge, and left overnight.
Day 3, smoking the venison: Using the cold smoke adaptor, I closed the vent on the Bradley smoker and added some oak bisquettes to the stack, leaving it to build up a good head of smoke over 20 minutes before lifting the rump from the marinade and placing it on a steel rack in the smoker. I placed a tray beneath it to collect any drips of oil. I gave the joint 1½ hours of smoking time before returning it to the marinade.
Bradley Smoked Venison with Vegetable Chips (Serves 2)
500g smoked, marinated venison rump
2 shallots, peeled& quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled & cut into wedges
2 medium parsnips, peeled & cut into wedges
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into wedges
1 Preheat the oven to 220°C. Parboil the carrots for 5 minutes, drain. Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes, or until tender and almost totally cooked, drain. Place the potato and parsnip wedges in a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil to coat, and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Transfer the dish of parsnip and potato chips to the top shelf of the oven.
2 Place the carrots and shallot in a snug fitting roasting dish with the marinated, smoked venison tucked in there too. Turn the carrots and shallot in the oil from the venison to coat. Move the dish to the oven and cook for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. Roast for a further 20 minutes then remove from the oven, cover lightly with foil, and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Check the potatoes, turning them if necessary, and if ready after 30 minutes then remove at the same time as the venison (or leave in the oven, if they need a few more minutes, whilst the venison rests).
3 Serve thin slices of smoked venison over salad leaves and with golden vegetable chips. Divide the smoky carrots, shallots and meat juices between the plates also – and have horseradish available because it goes with it so very, very well.