You will need to give your butcher a good bit of early notice that you want saddle on the bone as they often tend to get stripped of their fillets in advance of making it to the shops.
If you can't get it on the bone then the saddle fillets will work well: they will obviously need less cooking time. They can be simply pan fried or lightly roasted for 10 minutes in a very hot oven.
See the gamekeeper's potatoes on the next page: you can place the deer on the potatoes for the last half of cooking so all of the juices are captured in the potatoes.
1 saddle of deer, weighing about 2-3kg
A couple of knobs of butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
For the sauce
2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp tomato purée
200ml red wine
500ml good beef stock
150g piece of streaky bacon, cut into 1cm dice
250g wild or cultivated mushrooms, cleaned and cut into even-sized pieces
Preheat the oven to 220/gas mark 7. First make the sauce: melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes until lightly coloured.
Add the flour and tomato purée and stir well over a low heat for a minute. Gradually add the red wine, stirring to avoid lumps forming, and then gradually add the beef stock.
Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 20-25 minutes, giving the occasional whisk, until the sauce has reduced by about two-thirds and thickened.
Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and continue cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain, then mix with the sauce.
Rub the saddle with butter, season and lay it in a roasting tray. Roast the saddle for 35-45 minutes for medium rare and another 10-15 minutes for medium to medium well done. Any longer and it will end up dry. Remove the deer from the roasting tray and keep warm in a very low oven, but don't let it cook any more.
To serve, with a flexible sharp knife carefully remove the fillets of deer from each side of the central bone and transfer to a chopping board. Slice the fillets up into ½-1cm slices on the bias and arrange back on the saddle or on plates and pour a little of the sauce over.Reuse content