preparing venison joints

Venison is the name for all deer meat. Most venison now is farmed and when cooked becomes deliciously tender, but that also means it lacks a strong gamy flavour which may disappoint some people. I, in fact, prefer it milder. The choicest cuts of venison are haunch or leg, loin and saddle, and they are best served slightly pink and juicy.

Venison fat is strongly flavoured so it should be removed before roasting. But because venison is so lean, it is advisable to bard joints and baste frequently during roasting, or smear with vegetable oil before putting in the oven.

The fuller flavour of venison means it takes beautifully to exciting marinades, which also help to keep the meat moist and tender during roasting.


  1. Prepare the marinade in a large jug by mixing together 300ml (½ pint) wine vinegar, 150ml (¼ pint) olive oil, 2-3 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons crushed juniper berries and fresh herb sprigs. This makes enough marinade for a 1.5kg (3lb) joint.

  2. Trim the joint, here a haunch, of any fat, membranes or gristle. Place the joint in a large polythene roasting or food bag. Pour in the marinade, then securely close the bag with plastic tags or tie with a knot if the bag is long enough.

  3. Rub the joint all over in the bag, so it is well covered with the marinade. Place on a large dish and refrigerate for 4–5 days, turning every 8 hours or so. This allows the marinade flavours to permeate the meat.

  4. To prepare for roasting, remove the joint from the marinade and place it on a rack in a roasting tin. Bard the joint or smear it with oil. Weigh and roast it according to the chart.