Beef has firmly become the UK's red meat of choice, making venison a rare treat in most households. The saddle of venison is a prime cut of meat. It is the loin but is sometimes referred to as the backstrap, and it is traditionally roasted whole, though some cut it into chops. Because of the size of the cut -- most shop-bought saddles will weigh between 2 to 3 kg (4 1/2 to 8 lbs) -- and the leanness of venison, most recipes call for the addition of a fat to ensure the meat doesn't dry out, but this is not strictly necessary.
Season and sear the saddle. Season the saddle with salt and pepper to taste. In a large frying pan with a small amount of olive oil, brown the saddle on all sides.
Place the saddle in a roasting pan. Make sure the saddle faces rib-side down. Sprinkle chopped or dried herbs on top and top it with apple slices. Add vegetables to the pan, and pour on the stock. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
Place the pan in a preheated 180 degrees C (350F) oven. Roast the saddle for approximately 20 minutes. Baste the meat. Turn the oven to 150 degrees C (300F) and cook for an additional 15 minutes per 450 g (1 lb). Re-cover the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes. This should cook the saddle so that it's on the pinker side of medium.
Let the saddle rest. When it has finished roasting, remove the saddle from the pan and let it rest. Cutting into the meat now will cause its juices to run out, turning a venison that is initially moist into dry rubber. It should sit for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Strain the vegetables and place them in a bowl. You can serve these vegetables alongside the meat.
Use the remaining liquid to make a gravy. After straining the vegetables, pour the beef stock into the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the hob and turn the heat up to high. Stir in pats of butter and add wine. Let the pan simmer over heat until the liquid thickens into a gravy. Slice the venison and serve.
The venison will remain juicy if the cooking temperature is limited to a medium or medium rare. For well-done pieces, or if the meat comes from leaner, wild game, rather than a fattier farm-raised animal, lower the heat on the oven to a constant 150 degrees C (300F) and consider larding the meat or wrapping it in bacon.
Tips and warnings
- The venison will remain juicy if the cooking temperature is limited to a medium or medium rare. For well-done pieces, or if the meat comes from leaner, wild game, rather than a fattier farm-raised animal, lower the heat on the oven to a constant 150 degrees C (300F) and consider larding the meat or wrapping it in bacon.