This time last week I was enjoying a morning of venison cookery in the stunning old kitchen at Dunham Massey National Trust. As a volunteer and editor of an internal National Trust newsletter on food I went along to find out what it was all about.
What a wonderful morning. In my opinion there were several things that set this cookery demonstration apart from others:
Firstly, the setting. The event was held in the original old kitchen at Dunham Massey, a room that you would normally wander through on your tour of the house. It is an impressive room, bright with high ceilings, a massive Aga, a beautiful collection of copper pans, and a hefty big wooden workbench.
Secondly, the venison. The meat used in the cookery demonstration came from the deer park – perhaps if you a regular walker at Dunham Massey you might have even passed that same deer that we got to sample.
It was led by a great chef called Paul Ratcliffe who took us through a selection of recipes to showcase how you can cook with venison. It included traditional favourites like venison casserole, to more unusual dishes like venison Bresola, venison liver pate, and venison sausages.
Paul started out with a large piece of venison which he butchered into the different pieces that he would later use in the dishes. It was nice to get those extra tips and to watch how meat is butchered, even if I won’t be doing it in my own home.
Watching the sausages be made was pretty cool – something I’ve always fancied having a go at, and maybe I will now. Paul used a mixture of venison and pork, which he marinated before putting through the mincer and finally making into sausages.
I like my meat slow-cooked and falling apart, so for me it was the venison casserole that was my favourite dish. Paul chose to leave the meat in quite large chunks, which is the opposite to what I do and an interesting alternative. I was skeptical that it would be as soft and falling apart as I like, but I was proved wrong.
Another dish that I was surprisingly fond of were the pickled vegetables made to go with the carpaccio of venison. They were very quickly cooked in a sweetened vinegar mixture then cooled.
Very moreish – it was a shame there were other people I had to share it with!
This was the last venison cookery class for this year, but around Christmas there are other cookery classes held in the old kitchen. It was a lovely morning and with the added bonus of delicious National Trust cakes at the break. Yum.