Venison is a generic name for deer meat and once upon a time it was enough to describe something on a menu. But those days are slowly disappearing. Both chefs and consumers are beginning to understand that the different species of deer have very different flavours and meat characteristics.
We talked to Deer Box founder Ben Heath who is becoming more and more of an expert at telling the difference between different animals. His conclusion: they are not all the same.
“I started Deer Box with Mike Robinson during lockdown. It exceeded all expectations. We had to do something with the venison that we weren’t selling to restaurants and setting up a delivery of venison to consumer seemed like a good idea. It all started in August last year and since then we’ve sold nearly 1500 boxes and sold everything we had to cull on the estates we manage and bought in more.
“What has been really interesting to me, as a result, is working with more than one species of deer as we work with different estates and cull more than one species. So we work with Muntjac, Roe, Chinese water deer, Fallow and Red deer. And they are all different. But historically they have always been labelled as venison. I think that will start to change and I think chefs will start to realise that what they are buying cannot be just labelled as one thing.
“An example of this is Chinese water deer. The meat is much wetter than the others and has a more buttery flavour. It’s markedly different than Muntjac which has a finer grain.
“I’d say that Fallow deer is the most delicate of all of them and Red deer the strongest and grainiest of the meat. Roe deer has a strong flavour but is tender. All of them have their own characteristics, tastes and graininess. It’s fascinating.
“I think this is what makes out Deer Box as different. We don’t sell venison as such. We sell deer meat. Except for diced and mince but that is starting to change as well. When we have a large cull of a particular species, as we did recently with a lot of Chinese water deer, we started sell a named deer mince and dice. It was very well received.”
For more information on Deer Box and wild venison delivered to your door visit www.deerbox.co.uk