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27 Benefits of Harvesting & Eating Wild Venison: A Look at Venison vs Beef

There are so many reasons why hunting for deer meat is beneficial not only for the environment but for our well being and health. We have narrowed it down to 27 benefits of harvesting and eating wild venison and have created a really cool infographic to better illustrate the long lasting debate of venison vs beef. This will answer many of those questions many people have, such as is deer meat healthy? Doesn’t it taste gamey? How much does it cost?

venison vs beef - is deer meat healthy?

1. It Tastes Delicious

Venison can taste absolutely delicious – when prepared and processed correctly! Now we all know that taste is definitely something that is completely subjective. Not everybody is going to like it. But if you are a meat eater and love other red meat, then chances are you will love venison.

Many of the complaints people have of venison is that it can taste ‘gamey’, or that it is too dry or tough. If you have ever eaten deer meat and thought it tasted too gamey or tough there are a few reasons for this. There is a great article on RealTree explaining 12 reasons why venison can taste bad. The main reasons are usually the lack of urgency in field dressing the deer and not allowing the deer to cool immediately, improper hanging and aging, and failure to remove fat, connective tissues, hair and bone properly during skinning and processing.

Just for fun, conducted a blind taste test between 10 people which you can check out in the article The Ultimate Red Meat. Of those 10 people 8 preferred venison and 2 chose beef as the tastiest. The venison was a clear winner in that battle.

2. You Can Save Money

Harvesting and processing your own deer could save you lots of money in the long run when compared to buying store bought meat. Of course you will have the initial costs upfront, such as purchasing a rifle (and possibly rifle scope)/bow, trail camera and other equipment,accessories and gear, but these are all considered assets. If you take good care of these items they can last you a lifetime. So after the initial upfront costs lets take a look at the costs of a typical rifle hunter in Montana:

  • Deer Hunting Licence and Tag – $26
  • Rifle Cartridge approx – $30
  • Gasoline – $20

That’s a total cost of $76 for the hunt and kill. Consider taking down an average sized mule deer buck with 80 pounds of edible meat. That works out to be 95 cents per pound.

The current average cost of ground beef in the United States is $4.23 per pound.

That’s a saving of $3.28 per pound, 78% cheaper.

Now of course this is just an example, and there are many factors that can fluctuate here. Every state has different laws and different prices for a licence and tag, you may not always bag a deer (or one of that size) on every hunt, you may opt to have the deer processed and prepared by a butcher, or you may travel interstate in which case the tag would be much more. This is just an example of how much you could save, if you are hunting, skinning, processing, and preparing the deer all on your own. 78%…not bad!

3. Organic & Natural (Yes, Deer Meat is Healthy!)

Wild venison is more natural than most beef, pork and chicken found in supermarkets. Deer are born and bred in the wild and eat only natural food sources, mostly grass and acorns. Because many livestock growers try to get their cattle to a slaughter weight as quickly as possible, they pump them full of chemical enhancements.

Majority of the beef that is sold has been given loads of growth hormones, steroids, and antibiotics in order for it to increase in weight quickly which is totally understandable. Commercial beef is raised for the masses. By giving cattle these chemical enhancements it can cause them to double in weight at almost no cost, producing pounds of extra meat, for us the consumer.

However, many people are becoming more and more health conscious and are moving towards a more organic and natural way of eating. This is where venison is an excellent choice to replace beef. Unlike beef raised by humans in a cattle farm, venison is chemical and hormone free with no additives or antibiotic injections.

4. More Humane Choice

Eating venison is much more ethical than eating beef. Deer have lived a free roaming life, living with the law of nature. They haven’t suffered from confinement, antibiotics, abuse, or neglect and are hunted and killed in their own environment, where the smartest and luckiest animals survive and reproduce. We all know the destiny beef cattle meet. Majority are raised on a cattle farm, filled with chemicals and then slaughtered in packs in a slaughterhouse.

So long as ethical hunting is implemented, with a clean shot, making the kill quick with no suffering, then the choice of deer meat is a clear winner and is a much more humane choice when it comes to ethical eating of animals.

5. Generally Safer to Eat Than Most Meat

Just like all meat, there are always going to be dangers when consuming venison. One health issue with eating venison could be contracting E. Coli if bacteria from organs or anus has spread but this is also a risk taken when eating beef. A study by the CSPI found that of all the meats consumers purchased, chicken and ground beef were the riskiest for causing foodborne illnesses.

The biggest concerns with eating venison are chronic wasting disease (CWD) and lead poisoning. However there is no evidence as yet that CWD can be transmitted to humans (although the research continues). As for lead poisoning, this is a risk, but so long as you are shooting and processing your own deer this can easily be avoided, with correct shot placement minimizing bullet fragmentation, disposing meat close to the wound, and using non-toxic ammunition.

One thing you will not have to worry about with eating deer meat is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This is the human variant of “Mad Cow Disease” which has been tied to eating meat from diseased cows. There has been no similar connection between game meat such as venison and human health.

So long as care is taken with shot placement and the proper processing/butchering then eating meat from a deer is no more dangerous and in some ways much safer than eating commercially raised livestock.

6. Satisfaction

Hunters know that it can be a very satisfying feeling when you know you’ve done it all yourself. From harvesting the deer, to skinning, field dressing, to cooking, serving and eating it all up. Knowing that you are feeding your family or loved ones with the very deer that you harvested yourself can be a very rewarding feeling. Knowing where it has been and that it has been properly handled by yourself is also great for piece of mind. Some hunters may even feel more of a connection with the meal they are eating, knowing that they killed this animal in order to feed their loved ones.

7. Convenience

Ok so hunting for your own meat might not be as convenient as going down to the supermarket and buying a few pounds of beef or whatever. But, what about when you do bag that deer during hunting season. Assume it yields 80 pounds of meat and that is sitting in the freezer or canned ready for eating any time. No need to go to the butcher or supermarket to buy meat for months, even a year.

8. Keeps Us Active & Fit

Deer hunting is a great form of exercise that can involve scouting for game, hiking and climbing to a tree stand and dragging out deer. These are sure to keep you active and fit.

9. Gets Us Outdoors

Hunting for venison gets us out of the big city and into the great outdoors to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Many people find this escape refreshing, relaxing and therapeutic.

10. Helps Control the Deer Population

Hunting deer is an economical, practical, and effective means of controlling free-ranging deer populations and the hunters have taken the place of predators. Without this harvesting control, deer can overpopulate, destroy their natural habitat or adversely impact other species in the environment.

Here’s an example of the problem being faced at Eagle Creek Park in Indianaoplis with the overpopulation of deer.

11. Feeds People in Need

Venison can be donated to food banks. You can donate excessive venison if there’s no room in your freezer and feed less fortunate people in need.

12. Helps Control Blood Cholesterol Levels

Venison has less cholesterol than turkey and chicken and is very low in saturated fats. It can also lower your LDL (low density lipoproteins) which are called the “bad” cholesterol and increase your HDL (high density lipoproteins) which are the “good” cholesterol.

13. Reduces the Risk of Heart Attacks & Strokes

Being high in B vitamins it helps break down protein, carbs and fat for energy and assists with red blood cell formation. Of those B vitamins, it is rich in B12 and B6, which may assist in lowering the build up of homocysteine in the blood therefore reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

14. Helps Regulate Metabolism

Venison is full of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin) which help regulate metabolism.

15. Keeps Us Slim

Having virtually no carbs and being lower in fat than beef, deer meat is an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acid and has DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA may help reduce triglyceride levels in your blood, which means less fat being transported to fat stores making it easier to keep your body fat down.

16. Alternative for Food Allergies

Some nutritional experts believe venison can help and sometimes reverse chronic conditions like food allergies, sporadic diarrhoea and other digestive disorders.

17. Contains High Level of CLA

CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a natural trans fatty acid found in grass-fed animals that decreases body fat storage and increases lean skeletal muscle mass. Well guess what? Venison has loads of it. This also helps you keep slim and healthy.

18. Great for Bodybuilding

Venison is high in protein and is the perfect red meat to build lean muscle. It’s hard to find a meat that’s leaner than venison, and for bodybuilders trying to bulk up but also shred at the same time then eating deer meat may be a great substitute for the usual beef, fish and chicken. Incorporate this lean meat into your diet plan and watch the lean muscle pack on.

19. Keeps Energy Levels High

Venison is extremely rich in iron which keeps our energy levels high, makes us stronger and feel less lethargic.

20. Prevents Anaemia

Being high in iron, venison is good for iron deficiency anaemia prevention. Anaemia is when the level of red blood cells or haemogoblin is lower than it should be which in turn forces the heart to work harder to pump the right amount of blood to give the right amount of oxygen all around the body. Having anaemia can be exhausting and eating food that is rich in iron such as venison is a great way to prevent this.

21. Can Help During Pregnancy

Eating deer meat boosts iron stores and during pregnancy may help get over an iron deficiency given that the venison you are eating is properly handled and cured to eliminate any chance of foodborne illnesses. Anaemia (mentioned above) is very common in menstruating and pregnant women, so ladies if you are pregnant, make sure you boost this iron stores and eat some venison!

22. High in Protein

When comparing venison vs beef in protein it was found that venison contains more protein in almost every case. Lets compare 2 similar cuts of both the meats. 3 ounces of a top round beef steak that has been grilled contains 25.6g of protein. 3 ounces of broiled top round venison steak contains 26.8g of protein.

23. Extremely Low in Fat

Using the same cuts of venison and beef from above, the beef steak contained 3.2g of fat in total and 1.3g of saturated fat. The venison steak contained only 1.6g of fat and of that only 0.9g of saturated fat. This shows that the venison steak contains 50% less fat in total than the beef and 31% less saturated fat. Venison also has less saturated fat than ham, lean roast meat and salmon.

24. Low in Calories

Using the same cuts of venison and beef, the beef contained 138 calories and the venison 129 calories in total. That is 7% less calories than beef.

25. Fat Can Easily Be Removed

Because deer accumulate most of their fat around their organs and in single layers, which is mostly around the muscle and underneath the hide, the fat can easily be removed when processing and butchering the meat. Whitetail deer have even less fat because of their lifestyle and their constant exercising. Beef on the other hand store their fat between the muscle tissues, this is what creates that ‘marbling’ texture, but this also makes beef much higher in fat content.

26. Helps Fulfill DRI’s

DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is a reference or guide to how much minerals, vitamins and nutrients we should be consuming to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, specific to our age and gender.

According to 4 ounces of venison provides 68.5% of the daily value for protein, almost 50% of the DRI of iron for men and 31% for women. It also contains 30% of the DRI of vitamin B6 for adults and 80% of the DRI for vitamin B1.

27. It’s A Complete Protein

Venison is considered a complete protein because it contains all 10 of the essential amino acids.

So it’s pretty safe to say that harvesting and eating venison has many benefits. As for the venison vs beef debate it’s clear to see that venison is the winner in many cases including ethical eating, nutrition, and health.

What are your thoughts on eating venison? Drop us a line in the comments.

If you enjoyed this article and infographic please don’t forget to share with your friends on Facebook and spread the good message of harvesting wild game for food.


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Why you should be including game meat in your diet

Why you should be including game meat in your Paleo diet

Why you should be including game meat in your Paleo diet

The Paleo Diet has seen a boom in the consumption of protein, as more consumers are becoming health-conscious and opting out of carb heavy meals. Men and women have become more focused on healthy eating habits that contribute to a lean and toned body, and nutrient density of foods has become the forefront of nutrition in 2016. Consumers are no longer blindly consuming products. Instead, consumers are now reading labels and conducting their own online research regarding the health benefits of the food they consume.


Meat eaters will naturally find the Paleo Diet pleasing. However, overindulging in protein, especially meat with high caloric density, may not be the best solution to building the body of your dreams.

As someone whose goals are to achieve optimum health along with an enviable toned and strong body, eating too much red meat, such as beef and lamb may hinder your progress and be detrimental to your health. That is why we suggest eating game meat, such as impala, kudu, springbok, and warthog. We understand that many may not find the idea of eating game meat appetising, but if you haven’t tried it, you may never witness its fantastic benefits.


Game meat contains more minerals than the red meat we purchase from shops, and is low in fat and high in protein. Eating game may also help lower cholesterol. What we love about eating game is that it’s free from hormones and antibiotics, unlike its domesticated counterparts. Anti-cruelty is also a deciding factor when faced with the decision to purchase game meat. Unlike cattle and sheep, which are restrained in unhealthy conditions, game is free to roam and graze, as animals should. An additional health benefit to eating game is that you’ll be consuming a lower percentage of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and more of the good fatty acids, such as anti-inflammatory omega-3. Furthermore, game meat is a reliable source of iron and zinc. Those who are concerned regarding consuming only organic produce can feel assured that game is of course, organic.

Below are four convincing reasons why you should be swapping beef, lamb and pork with game meat today.


As mentioned before, the red meat we purchase from grocery stores and even the local butcher contains antibiotics and hormones. Injecting hormones into livestock helps them gain weight faster resulting in more meat and therefore higher profit for the producer. Hormones also increase the production of milk by dairy cows. By consuming game meat, you can be certain that what you’re feeding your body is safe and free from chemicals.


Good news for mass muscle gainers or those aiming to whittle their waist, game meat contains an important acid for muscle growth – conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). The benefits of including CLA-rich meat, include the following:

  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Enhanced muscle growth
  • Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lowers insulin resistance
  • Reduces food-induced allergies
  • Boosts immune system


By consuming game meat in favour of farmed animals that are deprived of their natural diet and habitat, you eliminate the risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. When animals are subjected to stressful, dirty and confined environments, they become susceptible to disease. When these animals are slaughtered, the disease spreads, which results in cross-contamination throughout the processing plant.


Wild game meat contains less fat because the animals receive regular exercise and have a natural plant-based diet. Animals kept in captivity are usually grain-fed, which increases the content of fat. Even if you eat pork and chicken breasts, which are considered lean meat, game meat still has fewer calories and more nutrients. A further consequence of consuming grain-fed animals is a higher concentration of omega-6 fatty acids, which increase inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can result in health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.



Game meat South Africa


Game meat Cape Town


Game meat South Africa


Game meat Cape Town


Game meat South Africa

By eating game meat, you are providing your body with good nutrition at a low calorie intake, and you’re contributing to the ethical treatment of animals. Chat to your butcher if you’re interested in using game meat for your next Paleo recipe.


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Venison has come a long way

Angela Day veneson kebabs. Picture: Steve Lawrence

Venison is much healthier than most other meat as it is low in fat and cholesterol.

Yet people stay clear because they have been told or remember it being a tough, dry meat with a strong gamey taste. Well, venison has come a long way and is now not only more accessible to consumers but tastier and a lot more tender.

A book I found very helpful and informative in my quest to find out how to cook different cuts is Karoo Venison by Albe Neetling, Annatjie Reynolds and Lynne Minnaar.

These three women live in Graaff Reinet and have had lots of experience cooking with game. The book is unfortunately out of print at the moment but is due to be back on the shelves next month.

From the book I learned that there is a big difference between game culled by registered, professional shooting teams, properly bled, hygienically treated in special mobile veld abattoirs and cooled over 24 hours to just above 0°C and game left to lie in the sun for hours before being cut up and most likely frozen immediately. Animals that have been culled while being chased are almost inedible.

Cooking the different cuts correctly will go a long way towards ensuring the success of your dish. Here are a few pointers:

* Neck, shank, rib and shoulder: These cuts should be marinated and are best suited to long, slow methods of cooking such as stews or casseroles. These cuts are also very dry and will benefit from being larded with spek (pork fat) or bacon.

* Sirloin, fillets and chops: These prime cuts can be meltingly tender if cooked properly. They should be cooked to medium rare, as the longer you cook them, the dryer they become. They need no marinating.

* Legs: These can be roasted, covered, at 160°C for 2-4 hours until tender. As this meat is lean, it is best to lard it with spek. (A recipe in Karoo Venison calls for marinade to be injected into the leg with a syringe to keep it moist during cooking.) A deboned leg will benefit from being marinated for up to three days before roasting and is also best cooked medium rare.

* Mince: Venison mince is very lean and is best combined with lamb or pork mince to make it more moist. It is suitable for making bobotie, pies, samoosas or any dish using mince.

* Overseas, venison refers to deer meat, but in southern Africa, it refers to the meat of antelopes.


Serves 6-8

2kg neck of venison

125ml flour

5ml paprika

5ml salt

a good grinding of black pepper

40-50ml oil

250g thick cut bacon rashers, chopped

2 onions, chopped

15ml chopped garlic

2 carrots, sliced

2 stalks of celery, chopped

500ml red wine

1 litre beef stock

15ml juniper berries, bruised

15ml ground coriander

salt and pepper

1 roll of frozen puff pastry, defrosted

beaten egg for glazing

Put the meat into a plastic bag with the flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Shake to coat the meat.

Heat some oil in a saucepan and brown the pieces of meat a few at a time. Remove and set aside.

Add the bacon to the pan and cook until brown and crispy. Remove and add to the meat.

Add the onions to the pan and cook for a minute. Add the garlic, carrots and celery and cook for 6-8 minutes. Add the wine, stock, juniper berries and coriander. Season, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours until meat falls off the bone.

Remove from the heat and cool the mixture. Remove the bones and shred the meat.

Strain the cooking liquid through a colander to separate out all the vegetables and bones. If the sauce is still very runny then simmer in a saucepan to thicken.

Combine the sauce and the shredded meat. Spoon this mixture into one large or a few smaller ovenproof dishes and cool completely.

Unroll the pastry and cut to fit the size of your serving dish. Cover the meat with the pastry and decorate with pieces of pastry if desired. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake at 200°C for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.


Serves 4-6


5ml ground cumin

5ml ground coriander

10ml curry powder

5ml turmeric

5ml salt

10ml chopped ginger

10ml chopped garlic

1 stalk of lemongrass, finely sliced

30ml soy sauce

20ml sugar

200ml coconut cream

125ml chopped coriander

750g venison steaks, cubed

Satay sauce

15 ml oil

½ onion finely chopped

10 ml chopped garlic

5 ml Thai green curry paste

200ml coconut cream

15ml sugar

5ml salt

60ml ground roasted peanuts

30-40ml peanut butter

15ml soy sauce

15ml lime or lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well. Add the cubed meat and leave to marinate overnight.

Remove the meat from the marinade and thread them onto skewers. Cook over hot coals or on a griddle pan until medium rare, basting with the marinade occasionally.

Serve with the satay sauce.

SATAY SAUCE: Heat oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add green curry paste and mix well. Add the rest of ingredients and cook for a minute or two to thicken.

Add more ground peanuts if the mixture is too thin.


Serves 4-6

1.2kg venison roast

30ml olive oil

45ml spice rub of your choice

salt and pepper

2-3 sprigs of rosemary

250g streaky bacon

Port sauce

250ml port

125ml beef stock

45ml butter, softened

15ml flour

salt and pepper

Rub the roast with olive oil, spice and seasoning. Place in an oven tray on top of a few sprigs of rosemary. Arrange the bacon over the meat.

Roast at 200°C for 1-1½ hours until medium rare. During cooking, occasionally baste the meat with the pan juices.

Remove the bacon for the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow the meat to brown.

When the meat is cooked, remove and rest, covered, for 10 minutes before carving. Served sliced with the pieces of bacon.

PORT GRAVY: Put the port and beef stock in a saucepan and simmer until reduced by a third.

Mix together the butter and flour and gradually whisk this into the port until thickened.

Season well and serve with meat.


Serves 4-6

1.5kg deboned shoulder of venison

Buttermilk marinade

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

10ml chopped garlic

4 juniper berries, bruised

15ml chopped rosemary

10ml ground black pepper

2 litres of buttermilk


30ml olive oil

1 red onion chopped

10ml chopped garlic

250ml couscous

250ml chicken stock

10ml harissa paste

125g dried apricots, chopped

60g dried cranberries

salt and pepper

60ml of chopped coriander


30ml olive oil

250g streaky bacon

250ml red wine

250ml beef stock

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade, and marinate the meat in it for 1-2 days. Remove from the marinade and wipe it clean.

Flatten the meat with a rolling pin to give you a nice size.

Put the stuffing inside and fold over to enclose. Secure with string.

Place in a roasting pan. Brush with olive oil and arrange the bacon strips over the top. Pour the wine and stock into the pan. Cover pan tightly with foil or a lid and roast at 160°C for 2-3 hours, basting frequently until the meat is tender.

Strain the meat juices from the pan into a saucepan and thicken with the combined butter and flour. Serve the meat sliced with the gravy.

STUFFING: Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the couscous and stir until well coated. Remove from the heat and pour over the hot stock. Cover and set a side for 5 minutes.

Fluff up with a fork and stir through the harissa paste. Add the apricots, cranberries, seasoning and coriander.


Serves 4-6

30-40ml olive oil

500g venison steak, cut into strips

2 red onions, sliced

10ml chopped garlic

50g butter

500g portabellini mushrooms, sliced

250g crème fraiche

10ml Dijon mustard

45ml tomato paste

salt and pepper

45ml chopped parsley

Heat the oil and fry the meat in batches over a high heat until just cooked. Remove and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry until soft. Remove and add to the meat.

Add the butter to the pan and add the mushrooms. Fry until mushrooms are soft. Return the meat and onions to the pan.

Combine the crème fraiche (a thick, slightly fermented cream), mustard and tomato paste and add to the pan. Mix well and heat through.

Season to taste and serve on mashed potatoes sprinkled with parsley. – The Star


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Venison casserole

Venison casserole recipe

Game is becoming increasingly easier to find and is such an appealing alternative to mass-farmed domestic animals. I used impala, but springbok or kudu also work well.

Cook’s tips:
• Potato gnocchi lightly tossed in sage butter, sprinkled with Parmesan and flat-leafed parsley gives the casserole a delicious Italian twist.
• Instead of gnocchi, top the casserole with a puff pastry lattice blanket. Cut puff pastry into 3cm strips and weave a blanket to fit your pot. Paint with lightly beaten egg and bake separately until golden and crispy on an oiled baking tray at 200°C. Slide it onto the casserole and serve with rice.

Recipe by Jenny Crwys-Williams

Venison casserole

 Serves: 12 Cooking Time: 3 hrs


  • 125ml cake flour
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika, to taste
  • 1,8kg venison, off the bone and cut into 1½cm cubes
  • olive and sunflower oil, for frying
  • 4 large onions, roughly chopped
  • ground nutmeg, to taste
  • ground cloves, to taste
  • 2 cubes chicken stock, crumbled
  • 60ml fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 500g streaky bacon, diced
  • 125ml chutney
  • 15ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 15ml balsamic vinegar
  • 15ml soy sauce
  • chilli jam or sauce, to taste, optional
  • 750ml water
  • butter, for frying
  • 200g button mushrooms



Preheat the oven to 160°C.2

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a bowl. Dust the meat in the flour and shake off any excess.3

Heat the oil in a cast-iron pot and fry the meat in batches until nicely browned. Set aside.4

Using the same pot, add a little more oil if necessary and fry the onion. Return the meat to the pot.5

Add the nutmeg, cloves, chicken stock, parsley, bacon, chutney, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and chilli jam or sauce, if using.6

Mix well and add the water to make a slushy mixture. Cover the pot and bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until brown and tender, about 1 hour.7

Heat the butter in a frying pan and lightly sear the mushrooms. Sprinkle on top of the casserole and serve with gnocchi and sage butter.


To drink: Venison is so South African, let’s pair it with a good pinotage from Allée Bleue 2006.