Red deer roast with rosemary, port and juniper berries, roasted almond potatoes and girolle sauce

Sorry about the world’s longest heading, but this meal was a special one.

Not special in the sense that it was a special occasion, it was just a Saturday night at my parents’ house in the countryside last time I was visiting.

But it is special in the way that this is the type of food my family and I love. The taste of course, and the preparation. But also the produce. Especially the produce.

The venison is from Red Deer and it roamed around free in the local area until shot by someone at an estate near by. It had a good life, died instantly and nothing is wasted on the animal.

The other ingredients are local too, the potatoes were dug up in my parent’s garden, the rosemary picked in the same garden and the girolles my aunt picked in the woods nearby. Sure, the port was not local, but most ingredients were and that is the way I prefer to eat.

And boy, does it taste good, when it is so close between produce and table.

Red deer roast with rosemary, port and juniper berries, roasted almond potatoes and girolle sauce, serves 4

1 Red deer roast, about 1.2 kilos once cleaned off tendons

3 sprigs rosemary

50 ml  port

1 tbsp juniper berries

butter and oil for frying

800 g almond potatoes, washed but not peeled

rapeseed oil

The sauce:

1 handful dried girolles

1 shallots, finely chopped

butter for frying

meat juices

300 ml cream

sauce colouring  

salt and pepper

perhaps another splash of port

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and place in a greased roasting tray flat side up. Drizzle with rapeseed oil and season. Put the girolles in a bowl and cover with hot water. 

Brown the meat on all sides in butter and oil on high heat. Season. Add a spoonful of rapeseed oil in another roasting tin. Crush the juniper berries in a pestle and mortar and add to the roasting tin. Place the meat on top and pierce the meat with the rosemary sprigs. Pour in the port and place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Place in the oven until the inside temperature is 68C, it takes about 30-40 minutes. Remove the roasting tin and transfer the meat to a plate, cover with tin foil and leave it to rest.

Turn the oven up to 180-200C so the potatoes will colour. 

Squeeze the water out of the mushrooms. Add a knob of butter to a (preferably non-stick) saucepan on medium heat. Fry the onions until translucent and then add the mushrooms and fry until golden brown. Add the juices from the roasting tin through a fine sieve and add the cream. Bring to the boil while stirring. Add more port if needed. Season and colour.

Carve the meat into thin slices, serve with the potatoes, sauce and vegetables of your choice. (We had romanesco, but cauliflower, broccoli or carrots work too.)

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