It's not often that I can get my hands on the tantalising wild venison hand cured salami from the amazing Gubbeen Farmhouse, expertly made by the hands of Fingal Ferguson in the sleepy West Cork village of Schull (pronounced Skull). I remember the first time I came across it.
It’s not often that I can get my hands on the tantalising wild venison hand cured salami from the amazing Gubbeen Farmhouse, expertly made by the hands of Fingal Ferguson in the sleepy West Cork village of Schull (pronounced Skull). I remember the first time I came across it.
It was about 8 years ago, and I was just settling into life in West Cork and becoming connected with my inner game keeper. I was all about the Venison! The only time I had the pleasure of eating it before was during a holiday in the Highlands of Scotland. We stayed in a country house B&B and the lady of the house was the most amazing cook. We dined there overnight on a feast of the best wild Scottish produce in a tarted clad dining room, waited on by a man wearing a sporran (among other things). Taxidermy abound with things stuffed in display cases and stag heads on the wall. I always think of Scotland through that oculus, even though I have a different experience each time I visit. Those meals in that dining room to me is Scotland in a snapshot.
I digress. The point is that ever since that trip I was fascinated by venison. So when I saw a wild venison salami for sale at the Mahon Point Farmer’s Market one crisp, bright autumn morning I bought it purely out of curiosity and lesser so with an idea of what this might actually taste like. I got it home, tried it sliced straight from the sausage and then again warmed through in a pan. The salami is heady with earthy flavours, oodles of umami sensation and singing high above it all is the beautiful taste of juniper cutting through the richness of the meat. Of course juniper and venison are the best of bedfellows so this is no surprise, but the balance of flavours in this small stick of salami are outrageously good – simply nothing else tastes like it. I sourced more of it and served it up in a warm salad as the starter for our Christmas dinner that year. I have been a massive fan ever since!
If I roast or braise venison it is always in a bath of red wine and port. See my recipe for Wild Venison Pie. It says something about my commitment to great local ingredients when I get home in the evening not sure what to cook for dinner, I see a half full bottle of red wine (sacrilege) and remember that I have the salami in the fridge. Risotto is obviously usually made with white wine, but why not red wine? And so I set about to work. A small handful of ingredients and a little elbow grease will reward you 25 minutes later with this completely delicious dish – even if I do say so myself!
And don’t be complaining that you can’t get wild venison salami where you are. Salami can be found all over the world. Get yourself to your local farmers market / covered market / Italian or German deli and you will find salami. It might not be wild venison, but maybe its wild boar, rare breed pork; merguez or anything else that sings of your particular region. Just get out there and see what there is. Chances are it will go just as well with this risotto as Gubbeen’s…possibly.. ;)
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