Good morning! I am home again after a jolly weekend of medieval camping with dear friends.
I have heaps of stories and recipes and pictures to share with you over the next week or so, but today I’ll start with my favorite meal of the weekend: fire-roasted venison.
Our friends Greg and Steff are hunters and gave us a beautiful deer for our medieval camping trip. Part of the rules for participating in these gatherings is that everything, from utensils and clothing to recipes and menus, must be authentic to the medieval time period we represent. Since our group is 12th century, that means spit-roasted meats, hearty stews, flat breads, and all sorts of dried fruits and nuts.
At past encampments we’ve roasted goat or pork, so venison was a real treat.
We started by slicing up heaps of garlic, chunks of salty pork fat, and fragrant bundles of fresh rosemary. We made incisions all over the venison and inserted these flavorful little nuggets. Since venison is a wild meat, it can get quite tough, so tucking in bits of pork fat adds much-needed moisture with the added bonus of even more great flavor.
Once Neil got the venison prepared and on the spit, Ann, Stacey, and I set to chopping root veggies for a thick veggie stew. Turnips, parsnips, tubers, carrots – they all went in to a big cast iron pot to simmer over the fire.
Then came the hard bit – turning the spit. The venison takes about four hours to cook through and must be turned continuously to prevent charring or raw bits. No one can crank the spit for four solid hours, so we take turns.
It’s pleasant sort of work, not riveting or difficult, and you fall into a kind of peaceful, dozy trance as you turn, turn, turn. I loved watching the public as their eyes fell on the spit. They were entranced! Especially the little boy below. I don’t know how long he stood there, mesmerized by the roasting deer and the crackling flames.
Needless to say, the slow roasting meat smells AMAZING!! We never can wait until it’s completely finished before we start sneaking over with our medieval knives to slice off a piece of meat.
The roast venison surpassed all our expectations. It was tender, moist, and absolutely bursting with flavor. It was especially good when you bit down into chunks of roasted garlic and crispy rosemary. Yum!!
After the public went home, we gathered round the fire with Aussie beers, shooting the breeze while we waited for the venison to be well and truly done.
Then we gathered around the long wooden table and ate bowl after bowl of savory veggies and tender, smoky venison, washed down with earthenware cups of homemade mead.
Soon darkness fell and the stars came out and one by one we ambled off to our tents to sink into the deep sleep that only comes when you’ve worked hard, eaten well, and are sleeping in the fresh air.
What is your favorite memory from your weekend?