We get through a fair number of deer at Hunter Gather Cook HQ. From beastly 70kg fallow to dainty 25kg roe, all the deer that comes into our kitchen is locally stalked and hung for the best part of two weeks before it appears on our table.
Butchery is an important part of what we do and making the meat go as far as possible is ingrained in the Hunter Gather Cook ethos. Pencil fillets are used for carpaccio, while haunches are put aside for the underground oven or split into cuts: rump for smoked biltong and sirloins for panfrying. The backstraps are marinated and put on hazel skewers and all the offcuts are minced by hand for buck burgers. The two front haunches either get slowroasted over the fire pit or go home in one of our course attendees? rucksacks. One deer dealt with? almost.
The remains of the carcase go into our stockpot for hundreds of future meals. First, we fireroast 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: the holy trinity (onions, carrots, celery), a few crushed bulbs of garlic, salt and pepper, a good slug of red wine, crushed juniper berries, a sprig of rosemary, a few bunches of ground ivy and an inch of cinnamon. Left to simmer away for the afternoon and reduce, by the end of the day we have one hell of a stock. As most of the deer we use are virtually fat-free, there is no need for skimming either.
Many of you may be familiar with the Bull Shot cocktail made using beef stock. The Buck Shot is its far superior cousin and that little bit wilder. It can be served cold, but it really comes into its own when consumed hot. We always serve this wonderful concoction ? a hot, meaty version of a Bloody Mary, if you like ? on our Fungal Foray & Feast courses in autumn after a good two-hour, drizzlesoaked yomp through the woods in search of mushrooms.
A cup of tea is one thing, a hit of sloe gin or damson vodka may also warm the cockles, but the Buck Shot gives you everything: a warm drink with a good hit of booze, a meaty finish and a dash of chilli, perfect for a day out with the gun.
It?s versatile, too, and can be made with any kind of stock. We?ve even used pheasant stock, which worked well, and which we aptly named the Cock Shot.
Nick?s Buck Shot recipe
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4)
? 500ml venison stock (reduced)
? 300ml tomato passata
? 160ml vodka (whisky can prove an
? Juice of half a lemon
? 1tsp horseradish sauce
? 1tsp red wine vinegar
? A few drops of Tabasco (add more if it?s a cold day)
? A good dash of Worcester sauce
? Salt and pepper
Heat up the venison stock and tomato passata in a saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and then warm gently. Adjust seasonings to suit your taste. I am a Tabasco addict, so I like mine extra hot, but I have to restrain myself when serving to guests. It tastes like venison in a mug, with a powerful kick.