There’s no need to hunt for good game. We’ve got always-tender, never-gamey venison from New Zealand that will become your favorite red meat.
Try venison this week and save 20% when you order from dartagnan.com.
Now through January 17, 2014.
That’s right! This sale includes the four-legged game (venison, wild boar, buffalo, rabbit) as well as the winged varieties (pheasant, squab, quail, guinea hen). And our wild Scottish game is back in season, so there’s nothing to grouse about. Get over to dartagnan.com and get your game on. Sale ends Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013.
For many, venison is associated with a hunter friend who dispenses irregular, butcher-paper-wrapped meat parcels of uneven quality and dubious taste. So it’s not a surprise that venison’s reputation has been less than stellar until recently.
Over the last decade or so, venison has become more main stream. The best restaurants in the country include it on their menus, and it can be purchased at neighborhood grocery stores and local butchers as well as online. Not only is venison easier to procure, but it’s more tender and milder in taste than its wild counterpart. Retail availability also means that home cooks can pick and choose the best cuts, not just the frozen stew meat left over from Uncle Bob’s hunting trip last year.
The term venison comes from the Latin verb venari, meaning “to hunt.” It can refer to meat coming from boar, hares, and certain species of goats and antelopes, but is most commonly applied to deer meat. Deer meat is characterized by its fine grain and supple texture resulting from short, thin muscle fibers. Red (the largest type of deer), axis, fallow, and roe are the most common type of deer used for their meat. Because of its large size, red deer are preferred for ranch-raised venison.
Where Does Venison Come From?
In addition to venison hunted largely in the Fall and early Winter season, ranches or farms are now located throughout the world. Most of America’s supply currently comes from New Zealand ranches and is marketed under the appellation Cervena, a name which reaches back to historical origins, combining cervidae, the Latin word for deer, with venison.
Cervena is a trademarked appellation that certifies that venison has been naturally pasture-raised, grass-fed with only minimal supplemental feed such as hay, and without steroids or growth hormones. Antibiotics are administered only in cases of extreme disease and are then tracked by animal and not allowed to be processed. Cervena also requires that animals be under three years of age at time of processing and that processing take place at accredited facilities. Cervena certified farms are privately-operated New Zealand farms that adhere to the strict standards required by the appellation.
Why Eat Venison?
Game of all types, especially venison, is low in fat, cholesterol, and calories and high in the essential nutrients niacin, phosphorus, iron, selenium, and zinc. Tender, light, and with a mild red meat taste, Cervena venison is packed with flavor (plus iron and calcium), but weighs in with only a fifth the amount of fat that beef does – making it both delicious and nutritious.According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, Cervena venison has about a fifth the amount of fat and about 100 fewer calories per 3.5 ounce serving of beef, the traditional choice for red meat.
It’s grey and a bit chilly in the Northeast, so we’re thinking stew for dinner. Here’s a warming recipe for rabbit stew from our friend, Chef Marco Canora of Hearth Restaurant in New York City. Marco’s classic Tuscan stew is just right for fall – hearty and satisfying but not too heavy. And it just so happens that natural rabbit fryers are on sale right now at dartagnan.com
Marco Canora’s Rabbit Stew with Nicoise Olives and Rosemary
feeds 4 generously, serve with crusty bread and hearty red wine
2 D’Artagnan Whole Natural Rabbits, cut into 10 pieces each
Coarse salt & freshly cracked pepper
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
2 celery stalks, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bunch rosemary sprigs, tied together
5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Nicoise olives, pitted if desired
1. Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper. Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet, about 3 tablespoons, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the rabbit pieces, about 3 minutes on each side, then set aside in a bowl.
2. When all of the meat is browned, add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the fond (browned bits) with a wooden spoon. Allow the wine to simmer for a minute or two, then pour it over the browned rabbit and reserve.
3. Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Fry, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent burning, until the vegetables soften and color, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and rosemary. Stir to coat the vegetables and cook until the paste darkens, about 5 minutes.
4. Return the rabbit and wine to the pan, lower the heat to medium, and stir to mix. Cook the rabbit, stirring occasionally, until its juices release, about 10 minutes.
5. Add enough broth to come a little less than halfway up the rabbit pieces, about 2 cups. Simmer the rabbit partially covered, turning it in the pan and basting it occasionally, until the pan is almost dry, about 15 minutes. Add more broth, about 1 cup, and continue simmering and basting the rabbit, adding a little broth whenever the pan looks dry (expect to add 1/2 cup about every 15 minutes). Stew until the rabbit is almost tender, about 1 hour.
6. Flip the rabbit pieces over and add the olives. Continue adding broth a little at a time and simmer until the rabbit is fully
tender, about 15 minutes more (if the meat pulls easily from the leg bone, the rabbit is done). Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5 more minutes to allow the seasoning to penetrate. Serve warm in shallow bowls.
For more information, and to buy tickets, email Julia Murphy.