Sunday, 27 February 2011

Hunting

Quelle belle journée !
Tomorrow, the 28th february is the final day of the hunting season for gibier; deer and wild boar. No more hooting horns disturbing my Saturday morning lie-in, no more trucks passing on the road laden with bleeding carcasses of deer who perhaps barely a week a go had caught my eye from the field below. No more local men dressed in their fluorescent plastic overalls tramping through the fields accompanied by their rather silly, yapping dogs.
Hooray! Another year over....

Mr La Vie Cambot - a shooter at all that moves



No matter how long I live or have lived in the countryside, I will never quite understand the logic of hunting. I’ve heard all the arguments about how important it is to control wild boar numbers and the deer population so that their lives are richer ! Such a joke.
Every thursday at the market or every year, I hear the local hunters complaining that numbers are down so if numbers are so low why do they need to control them. Anyway what makes us human beings so entitled to control nature in the first place. Haven't we done a pretty bad job over the past centuries to prove it?
We perhaps are lucky here in Mailhos as the local Sauveterre hunting club is a little more respectful than others. Just think about the italians hunters, who killed 35 innocent citizens in their first four days of the season this year. At least the only people dying around hère are the hunters themselves who have a tendency to fall off trees with a respectable 2g/litre of alcohol in their blood or else shoot themselves. Imagine if hunters were not allowed to drink during hunting hours, i’m sure there wouldn't be many left. At lunchtime on a weekend, they manage to knock down a few litres of red and by 4pm are loaded again with their rifles and back on the beat.
Sweet little things in winter...

Jean Francois is constantly telling me that 25% of France is still covered in native forest not because the french love trees but because hunting is still a national sport. I suppose this is logical and I suppose its a good reason to not complain too much about their activities. I still can play the mad irish woman when required. If the odd hunter strays onto our land with his dogs, I have a spécial outfit of red dressing gown and Brown hand-knitted irish cap that I put on to go out to meet them in the fields. I can tell you the hunters don’t stay long when they see this red apparition arriving.
With the season ending I've once again been given 10 kilos of venison by the hunting club for being so patient with them or perhaps to keep an evil spirit at bay. Anyway close my eyes and forget the beauty of these animals and start cooking.

Filet of Venison with caper and sultana butter

1 saddle of venison
100g (3.5 oz) butter
12 garlic cloves
A small glass of white wine
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper

Caper and sultana butter
150g (5oz) softened butter
150g (5oz) sultanas
150g (5oz) salted capers
3tbs red wine vinegar

Four 200°C/400°F/6-7
Rinse the capers in water and blanch them for a few seconds in boiling water. Do the same thing with the sultanas. Put both ingrédients in a mixer and chop them with the softened butter and the vinegar. Once you have a smooth mix and have tested the seasoning, spread the butter on a small sheet of aluminium foil, roll it up like a sausage and keep it in the fridge until you need it.

Season the saddle of venison. In a oven dish large enough to fit the méat, melt a large knob of butter and when it starts to froth, add the méat and fry lightly on either side.
Surround the meat with the garlic cloves and place in a hot over for 20 minutes or less if you like it rare. Baste the meat often with the butter.
Put the meat, butter and garlic on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Deglaze the oven dish with the white wine and the Worcestershire sauce and reduce by half.
Strain this wine mixture and mix with the cooking butter. Check the seasoning.

Cut the bone from the saddle of venison and slice thickly. Arrange in a plate where wine sauce has been poured and place a équivalent size pièce of caper butter on each pièce of méat.
Place the dish in the oven to to just melt the butter and warm the meat through. Serve with a celeriac purée.

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