Top-class deer management, butchery and cookery go hand in hand at Cowdray. Caring for its land and concern for animal welfare are central to the Estate’s pursuance of a sustainable and environmentally responsible farming policy.
Jason Griffin has been our Deer Manager for the past seven years, overseeing the daily management and control of the Estate’s herds of Fallow and Roe deer who roam freely, eat healthily and live without stress or drugs – just as has happened for centuries.
The Farm Shop’s arrival in 2009 has brought greater relevance to the management of deer herds on the Estate which is the venison supplier for its Butchery section as well as the Café. Both highly prize their venison’s total connection with the surrounding land and the great outdoors.
The venison season tends to run from the start of August through to the end of April. However, availability of buck deer can extend it further and we now supply venison all year round.
Jason and the Farm Shop’s Butchers are in regular conversation with each other, where they will discuss the Butchery’s particular requirements.
After Jason inspects and prepares the carcasses, they are hung for up to two weeks before being supplied to the Butchers to process, ahead of display on the counter in the Farm Shop.
We sell smoked venison loin fillet, venison haunch and saddle, leg steaks, stewing steak and minced venison. Our diced venison goes into the cooked Cowdray pies and we make our own venison sausages.
The Butchers have adapted a recipe for Boerewors using venison in place of beef for the sausage meat and flavouring it with coriander seeds, spices and cloves. When the team have sufficient trim, the sausages are prepared in small batches using traditional methods, with no artificial additives or preservatives and natural skins.
Cooking with Estate-reared venison ties in well with our Head Chef, Ben Jupp’s ‘out of the garden and into the pan’ philosophy. Ben who is always seeking the freshest and best quality ingredients so that the ultimate can be expected of his dishes. He will chat to the Butchery team about what he is after and how he would like a particular cut to be prepared.
Ben Jupp’s recipe for
Venison Ragu with Linguini
Ingredients (all of which are available from the Farm Shop)
1 stick of celery
1 small leek
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
250ml red wine
70g tomato purée
100g pancetta lardons
400g minced venison
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
200g chopped tomatoes
Finely dice all the vegetables and place into a pan with a little cooking oil and sweat down slowly until they begin to turn golden brown.
Then add the pancetta lardons and all the minced venison to the vegetables. Stir until the meat has browned off and broken down into small pieces.
At this point, add the red wine and reduce by half. Then add the tomato purée and cook out for two minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Stir in well and turn the heat down low with a lid on top. Leave to cook gently until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened – will take approx. 30 minutes
Whilst the ragu is slowly simmering, cook the pasta and then drain well. Add the pasta to the finished ragu and mix in, coating all the pasta.
Serve with a good helping of Parmigiano Reggiano and a large glass of red wine.