Chef's school post #3 - Game & butchering venison
We were lucky a couple of Friday's ago to have a lecture on game from one of the UK's game experts, Chef Jose Souto.
Chef Souto is a teacher at the college, but the lecture was actually put on for members of the food industry - the four of us on my course were joined in the audience by gamekeepers, catering college lecturers, food writers and chefs like Peter Gordon from the London restaurant Providores, and the chefs from the Salt House Group whose restaurants include Dehesa and Opera Tavern.
He spoke with obvious passion, enthusiasm and, most of all, knowledge about the harvest, preparation and cooking of game. Definitely no notes or powerpoint required! Best of all, he had an example of each type of game animal that we have in Britain: all feathered game (such as pheasant, grouse, partridge, teal, mallard etc) and furred (hare, rabbit (not technically game) and deer). He showed us how to pluck/skin and butcher each of them.
It was particularly interesting to spend the afternoon part of the demonstration hearing about the 6 types of deer (venison) found in the UK: Fallow, Roe, Red, Japanese Sika, Reeves Muntjac and Chinese Water deer. One of each of those species was hanging in front of us! Chef Souto showed us how to skin and butcher a deer (he used the Fallow deer). The animals had been shot around a week to ten days before and had been hanging since then to let the muscles relax.
Skinning all starts with the head being taken off and then he very quickly and skilfully skinned and butchered the deer into all of the cuts that we're used to. I suppose you might see this as a bit gruesome if you think too much about it. But I think it's really important to see and understand where your meat comes from.
The following Monday, the four of us in our class got the opportunity to skin and butcher the Japanese Sika that had been hanging in front of us during the demonstration. We were slower and less skilled, obviously, but it was a great experience and not that difficult. The picture above was taken just after we had skinned the animal and just before we started butchering it.
Taking down a whole animal - whether a deer, pig, lamb, maybe even part of a cow, is something that I would recommend to anyone interested in food. You need a sharp boning knife and occasionally a saw. Obviously it helps to be guided by a chef or butcher as we were, but much of it is intuitive. Maybe try and get along to a class or demonstration in your area if you can?
Till next time
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Oh my goodness , my father would have so loved that day.
He loved game and was often given some at the local pub ( yes at the pub , we had a cottage in the country that he lived in till the end of his days ) He was well known for cooking and eating anything that he could and was always happy to learn about , cook and eat .
He would love to find somthing new that he had not known about before and learn about it.
Venison was a favorite of his , but he loved all game.