I bought a kilo of wild venison at the farmer’s market on Sunday, to make an Estofado de Corzo – venison stew. While researching recipes beforehand, I was delighted to discover that the indigenous deer in Spain are the same as the UK’s common species – Roe and Red deer (there are other species in both countries). In the UK all deer meat is called venison and even farmed deer live in parks, leading an almost completely wild life.
While people do go out to shoot trophies, deer have no natural predators in the UK and therefore are culled, or they breed like rabbits and eat themselves out of house and home. Male deer (Bucks) are not normally shot in the rutting season because their excitable male hormones make the meat too gamey. Female deer (Does) are culled in the winter so that they’re not accidentally killed when they have offspring to look after in late spring.
Venison is a very lean meat, with far less fat and cholesterol than beef. It also contains more iron, high levels of Omega 3 and no antibiotics. This is the meat our ancestors ate as hunter gatherers, it’s cheaper than organic beef and currently prices are low!
Make a marinade for the venison – mine didn’t smell especially gamey, but a soak with wine and herbs adds flavour and tenderises the meat. My marinade is a little elaborate in comparison to some Spanish recipes, where the meat is just soaked in wine. The venison was pre-cut, but some of the pieces needed adjustment to make them bite sized.
1Kg wild venison (cut into bite sized pieces)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
a few sprigs thyme
6 juniper berries (squashed)
a few black peppercorns
1/2 bottle of Tempranillo (or other Spanish red wine)
a splash of sherry vinegar
a couple of generous slugs Brandy de Jerez (or other brandy)
Put the venison in the marinade for 24 – 48 hours and refrigerate. Keep it covered by the liquid and turn it around occasionally.
Drain the venison but save the marinade liquid – discard the the thyme, peppercorns and juniper.
Estofado de Corzo recipe (serves 4):
1kg marinated wild venison
3 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 stick of celery (chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 red pepper (chopped)
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
8 closed cap mushrooms (chopped)
a couple of squirts anchovy paste
2 teaspoons rosemary and thyme (ground up with coarse sea salt and black peppercorns)
a handful fresh parsley (chopped) save a little to garnish
a heaped teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (dulce)
2 bay leaves
2 dessertspoon seasoned plain flour
a couple of splashes sherry vinegar (to taste)
the marinade liquid (remove the thyme, peppercorns and juniper)
1/2 pint of pheasant stock (or chicken stock)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper (if required)
Pat the venison dry, dust in seasoned plain flour and brown with hot olive oil in batches. If you crowd the pan you’ll loose heat and the meat will poach (instead of browning) in a floury mess. Remove to a plate.
Fry the onion in the same pan as the venison – add more olive oil if necessary. Don’t worry about any flour stuck to the bottom of the casserole, stir and it will eventually become part of and thicken the stew.
When the onions become translucent, add the chopped bacon. I can’t find any Spanish recipes for venison which include bacon, or even jamón, but deer meat is quite lean and will benefit from the fat in the pork.
When the bacon has taken some colour, grate in the tomatoes.
Stir in the carrot, celery, garlic and red pepper. They will start to release moisture and the flour in the casserole will make a natural roux – when this happens, add the mushrooms. If you live outside of town and like foraging, wild mushrooms would be fantastic, but regular mushrooms will do.
When the mushrooms have had a few minutes, return the venison to the pan.
Sprinkle on the rosemary and thyme, followed by two squirts of anchovy paste, a heaped teaspoon of pimentón dulce and 2 bay leaves.
Pour on the marinade, a couple more splashes of sherry vinegar and 1/2 pint of pheasant (or chicken) stock.
Sprinkle on a handful of chopped parsley. Mix well, put the lid on and remove to a preheated oven at 160ºC for 2 – 3 hours, until tender.
Stir occasionally and test the meat with a fork around two hours. When the venison feels like tender steak, it’s ready.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a glass of Monte Corzo Tempranillo.
Every mouthful was special and very tender – there’s a suitable vulgar expression for this in Spanish – “¡De puta madre!”
Wicked me :_ ! Reading this I just wonder what buck’s meat culled in the rutting season would taste like 🙂 ? As you know I love natural depth of flavour ! I so enjoy venison and can only get it whilst ‘up north’ or very expensively farmed here for those who have enjoyed and remembered ! I do like both your marinade and the estofado . . . yes, I guess the blessed roo may make a trial appearance again ! Hope you continuing to be well . . . being the anglophile I am rather smiled at the morning news that some 80-90 % of the most vulnerable had already received the first ‘jab’ . . .
Ha ha – I think buck’s meat would be so gamey it would need 2 weeks in the marinade. I remember reading in Larousse, that fox was edible, but so rank that it was hard to stomach. Similarly, Chinese bear requires so much processing, that it’s surprising people bother. Perhaps a large male kangaroo with a harem might be similar…
None of the above can be as bad as Icelandic rotten shark, which I have eaten!
Hmm . . . on second thought, after a most pleasant Sichuan chicken lunch and having read your link I better reserve my initial opinion ! Something new learned – tick !!
Lovely stuff MD. I cooked a 6 chilli venison chilli last week. It got me thinking about our venison supply chain here in Ireland. It is, in my experience, very poor, with a lot of low grade meat making it’s way into the stores. It is also very expensive. That is really frustrating and generally turns me off paying top dollar for a roll of the dice on quality. Having said that, my chilli turned out well. I’ll post it in a couple of weeks.
Thanks Conor – venison goes really well with chilli and I’m sure Native Americans have been eating it spicy for thousands of years. Apparently there’s a glut of venison in the UK, relative to restaurant closures – it’s definitely cheaper this year on the South Downs market stall. I look forward to reading your post.
Jajajajaj, de puta madre!! MD, Watch your language!!! jejejejeje. Una receta estupenda, como siempre. Sólo he comido venado una vez, en una hamburguesa en Georgia hace algunos años. Esta receta, más tradicional me encanta. Tenemos un primo aquí en Madrid que suele salir de caza muy a menudo, le pediré que la próxima vez nos traiga un poco de carne de ciervo, a ver que tal… o la buscaré en algún mercado, porque lo cierto es que no es una carne que se encuentre en supermercados aquí. Saludos y buen finde!!
Jajajaja – ¡muchas gracias Giovnna! Espero que pruebes el venado pronto. Lo he visto en la Boquería (solía haber más) y un amigo cazador en los Pirineos me ha prometido una pierna cuando yo vuelvo. Espero que tengas un buen fin de semana, un abrazo.
Ayer me fijé y he visto ciervo en el Hipercor! 🥳
¿Vas a comprar alguno?
creo que sí, pero me da un poco de reparo que no me salga bien tu receta… tengo estudiarla!!! 😉
¡No creo que sea difícil para una cocinera experta como tú!
Jajaja gracias! Viniendo de ti es todo un cumplido!! ☺️
¡Gracias a ti!
I enjoy venison and usually order it when found in a restaurant in Europe…oh those were the days. Your stew certainly does sound flavorful and I know I would enjoy it.
Thanks Karen – this is definitely one I’ll be cooking often. I bought another kilo of venison yesterday, as the weather has turned cold and snowy.
Snowy in London, I was stuck at the airport one year trying to get home during a snow storm…not fun. Your venison if perfect for that kind of weather.
Yes, all day for the last 2 days, but the ground was wet, so it won’t last. I think I might be making a venison chilli this week.
Mad, as I sit and watch the snowfall and the Skåne winds blow, your venison stew sounds wonderful. We’re also lucky here to have Kronhjort (red deer) here as well. They are not as plentiful in the wild as our rådjur (roe deer), but available in our markets at times. Farmed red deer is available year-round as is roe deer. So that means your stew is now on my must make soon list. Due to new dietary restrictions, I’ll be omitting the bacon. Perhaps I’ll replace it with some very lean smoked roe deer a friend recently gifted me.
Great post as always.
Thanks Ron – I love the sound of that smoked roe deer. I bet it tastes amazing!
Une belle recette ! Bonne soirée
Merci beaucoup et je vous souhaite un bon fin de la semaine!