We get through a fair amount of Deer at HGC HQ throughout the year, from beastly 70kg Fallow to dainty 25kg Roe. All the deer that come the the HGC kitchen are locally stalked and hung for the best part of 2 weeks before they appear on our table. In most cases its down to Ash, one of our instructors, to teach the delicate art of seam butchery with our guests. They all get stuck in be it removing the pelt, pencil fillets, backstrap, neck fillet or dissecting the haunch into a variety of fine cuts: The tender sirloin, top and bottom rounds, rump and the slightly tougher shank.
HGC instructor Ash with one peice of backstrap ready for the camp kitchen.
Butchery is an important part of what we do and making it go as far as possible is firmly engrained in the Hunter Gather Cook ethos. Once Ash has finished with his apprentices, the meat is divvied up: Dave gets a fillet to make smoked biltong, I get the pencil fillets for carpaccio, haunches are put aside for the underground oven or split into cuts, antoher fillet is marinated and put on hazel skewers and all the offcuts are minced by hand. The 2 front haunches either end up in the freezer, go to my landlord or go home in a lucky course attendees rucksack. One deer, dealt with…
One Roe deer done: the remains of the carcass in the foreground ready for roasting.
What we are left with is not necessarily going straight to our very well fed foxes and buzzards (although the buzzards are more partial to picking apart rabbit pelts on a large fallen oak), but into our stockpot for plenty of future HGC meals. It works especially well in our Jelly Ear Broth with Sorrel.
First we fire roast the bones over the hearth on a bed of Oak and hornbeam before dismantling the ribcage and placing it in the pot with all the necessary goodies to form the basis of a fine stock: the holy trinity (onions, carrots, celery), a few crushed bulbs of garlic, salt & pepper, a good slug of red wine, crushed juniper berries, a sprig of rosemary, dried Wood Avens roots and an inch of cinnamon.
Left to simmer away for the afternoon and reduce, by the end of a day course we have one hell of a stock and as most of the deer we get are virtually fat free- no need for skimming!
What we’re focusing on hear is a hearty, warming drink similar to the better known Bullshot (made using beef stock). The Buckshot is the far superior cousin and that little bit wilder. We served this wonderful concoction, a hot version of a Bloody Mary if you like, on our Fungal Foray & Feast’s back in October after a good two hour, drizzle-ridden yomp in search of ‘shrooms. By jingo did it go down well!
HGC course attendees filleting, mincing and mingling.
If you don’t happen to have a deer carcass to hand, try asking your local butcher and he might be able to get hold of some bones for you or substitute the venison stock for beef stock (then you have a bullshot). Without further ado…the buckshot:
500ml of Venison Stock (reduced)
300ml of Homemade Tomato passata
160ml of Vodka (Whisky can prove to be an interesting alternative!)
Juice of half a lemon
1 TSP Horseradish sauce
1 TSP red wine vinegar
a few drops of Tabasco (add more if it’s a cold day)
a drizzle of Worcester sauce
Salt & Pepper
Heat up the Venison stock and Tomato Passata in a saucepan, then add the rest of the ingredients and heat gently. You may wish to adjust seasonings to suit your taste, being a Tabasco addict, I like mine extra hot, but have to restrain myself when serving to guests!
Final thought- don't mess about when trying to manhandle a large deer carcass that weighs more than you into the back of a jeep. Trust me...
If you would like to take part in any of our courses for 2013, please email: