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Roast venison haunch - wine marinade? Yes or no?

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So I decided to try roasting a 4.5 lb haunch of venison for Christmas dinner which I ordered from a trusted organic butcher. Now that I've picked it up, I'm suddenly nervous about cooking it properly, no doubt because it's the most expensive piece of meat I've ever bought. I've never cooked venison before.

The recipe I was planning to use calls for making a marinade from an entire bottle of red wine (I am using pinot noir, and welcome comments on this choice if you think the wine marinade is a good idea) along with sauted onions and carrots and various seasonings. I'm supposed to marinate the meat for two full days, turning it occasionally. Then I need brown the haunch with 8 oz bacon before roasting. The marinade is reduced and strained over the roast before the meat goes in the oven. So it's going to have a lot of flavours from the marinade and I'm worried the meat will primarily taste of red wine. There is also no mention of larding or barding with fat or bacon, which is something that seems to come up in a lot of online recipes.

For those of you who have roasted a venison haunch before, I welcome your thoughts on whether or not to marinate, and whether or not extra fat is needed.

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  1. With good venison a marinade is not needed. Browning in bacon fat is always a good way to go. To what internal temperature is the venison haunch going to be cooked? If it is to be kept medium rare (135-140 F) then there is no boarding or larding required. However, if it is to be cooked past that some additional moisture from fat may be needed.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sjemac

      Thanks for your reply. I did decide to go ahead with the marinade but having re-checked the recipe after you asked about it, I realize it doesn't actually give me an internal temperature for the meat. I think I'll be aiming for medium-rare so this suggests I don't really need to add any fat. I'm worried about it going dry, because it's a very lean piece of meat, so I will just keep a very close eye on it.

      1. re: geekmom

        For sure keep it medium rare. 'Low and slow' in the oven. 200 F no hotter. Don't allow it to sit in the marinade or you'll be stewing it not roasting it. Use the marinade to make sauce/gravy separately. Rub the haunch with some olive oil. Yeah venison has virtually no fat. 'Larding' really only coats any meat. It doesn't actually go INTO the meat. It's good sometimes b/c the bacon fat mixes with any juices from the roast and adds to the flavor of the sauce/gravy. When the internal temp. reaches 145 F I''d remove the roast and lightly tent and wait for maybe half an hour until the 'carry-over' temp rises to about 150 F. Venison is one of those meats that is always much better rare than well done. IMO I wouldn't bother roasting venison to a temp. higher than 150 F.

        1. re: Puffin3

          Thanks very much -- I will be putting it on a small rack to keep it above the liquid in the pan, and will aim for 145F internal temp. Will let you know how it goes!

    2. sjemac and Puffin3 I really appreciate your help with this. The meat turned out well for a first try at venison - I browned it, gave it a very quick blast in a hot oven & then turned it right down to 200F and left it there till the meat was exactly 140F. Let it rest for half an hour while we cooked the yorkshires & other side dishes and noted that the temperature climbed up to 147 before it started cooling off again. When we went to slice the meat there was a lot of very dark juice on the plate which made me worry that it was underdone, or perhaps hadn't rested long enough, but the actual meat was tender and moist so who knows.

      I'm glad that I made the marinade from the cookbook because it made a truly amazing gravy that went very well with the meat, but I'm not sure that the meat really needed to actually be marinated, if that makes sense. It was a nice piece of meat, tender and not at all "gamey" tasting.