By Hank Shaw on December 25, 2012

 

roast venison recipe

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I have hesitated for years to post a recipe for roast venison, not so much because of the venison part, but rather because roasting large joints of meat is more of an art than a science. In few other areas of cookery are recipes more suggestion than manual. It’s not brain surgery or anything, but you do need to be watchful when roasting a large joint of meat.

True roasting requires the radiant heat of an open fire, and if you are ever lucky enough to eat a haunch of venison properly roasted over such a fire, you will never forget it. Texas barbecue comes close, but only in a galactic sense. What most of us do is technically baking, but it still creates wonderful results if you know what you are doing.

What follows is what I know about roasting meat. I’ve been doing it for many years, but that does not mean I know everything there is to know. Feel free to chime in with your tips in the comments section. Oh, and if you notice that the meat in the pictures is a little pale, that’s because this roast comes from a yearling antelope I shot in Wyoming this year; younger animals have paler meat. Think veal.

I begin any roast by bringing the meat towards room temperature. Roasting a cold joint of meat is a very, very bad idea. You get a charred exterior with a cold center if you do, and unless you enjoy this, you will be sad. I also salt early and often. Salt when the meat is resting before cooking, salt in whatever rub I happen to be using, and salt when you serve. Adding salt little by little as the meat roasts makes it taste more of itself; adding it all at the end makes the meat taste of salt.

Venison is lean, so you need some sort of fat. Can you drape bacon over the roast as you cook? You bet, but only do it after you have done an initial sear, otherwise the exterior of the meat will look gray and unhappy.

Speaking of the initial sear, I prefer to get there by starting the roast in a roaring oven, somewhere between 450°F and 500°F. The smaller the roast, the hotter the oven. I roast the venison for at least 15 minutes this way, and up to 25 minutes. Then I drop the temperature to a more moderate 350°F. I wait until this point to add spices and herbs to the outside of the meat — if you add them in the beginning, they can burn and become nasty and bitter. This is also a good time to drape that bacon over the roast, or baste it with fat or oil.

Up to this point, you can follow a recipe verbatim. Finishing the roast requires attention and an eye for doneness, however. For whatever reason, heat does not seem to increase in a linear fashion with roasting meat. I’ve tested a roast and have had it at 110°F and then a mere 10 minutes later have seen it jump all the way to 140°F. Not sure what’s going on here, but it happens. A lot.

Read the rest at Honest Food.

The author, Hank Shaw, also has a book available “Hunt – Gather – Cook

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