Chart Farm Venison

A friend of mine at work suggested that I pay a visit to Chart Farm in Sevenoaks, Kent. Their venison, he assured me, was second to none and reasonably priced. He spoke in awe of steaks sublime in taste and so thick one could easily be shared between two people. I was in the area recently and thought I’d find out whether there was any justification for the superlatives.

I was fortunate enough to have a lengthy chat with the owner Seb, and was impressed with how he and his employees care for the animals. Their deer – around 1000 of them – roam freely on 400 acres of land and eat haylage from the end of November until March. The haylage itself is made on the farm from pasture that has previously been walked through / grazed by the deer, echoing Joel Salatin’s credo of grass-up sustainability. Antibiotics – a staple of feedlot farming – are not administered to the animals. Living in an environment suited to their biology automatically reduces the incidence of disease and therefore the need for medication.

Venison is a nutritional powerhouse. It is high in protein and iron, and provides an array of B-vitamins. While I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that believes that saturated fat is “bad for you” (it has to be considered within the context of the overall diet), those that are more “fat-phobic” will also find venison’s low saturated fat profile attractive.

I needed little persuasion to get my purse out. I bought 2 large shanks, 2 rump steaks, 4 packets of venison liver (frozen) and several sausages.

The moment of truth came the next day. The shanks had been ensconced within the warm confines of the slow-cooker overnight and the meat was falling nonchalantly off the bone. The taste was as impressive as the texture – rich and succulent with a pinch of salt enhancing the flavour.
The venison liver was pan-fried with red onions and was creamy and deliciously gamey.
I loved the sausages. I’m not a frequent eater of sausages because so many contain large amounts of fillers and not enough good quality meat. This was not an issue with the venison sausages from Chart Farm – the high meat content (90%), together with added herbs, meant that there was no compromise in terms of taste. The chunky consistency also gave them a rustic quality.
The last taste test came in the form of pan-fried venison rump steaks. These too did not disappoint. I cooked them medium-rare, butterflied, and accompanied by a crisp, green salad.

So  my friend’s excitement was wholly justified.  I’ll be going back there for a re-stock soon.


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