Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

"Chef Brian Henry cooked a series of delicious appetizers for us as we sat around a table in the kitchen". Thanks

Tony Aspler, Wine writer

“Chef Brian Henry puts one hundred percent of his energy into going all the way.”

Birgit Moenke, Editor Stir Media Read More Reviews

Gastronomically yours,

Venison

As a child I never did understand why my father and his friends would travel to northern Ontario every year to go deer hunting. Besides the fun he would have and the time spent “in camp” with his lifelong buddies I just never figured out why anyone would expend so much energy on bringing home venison for the purpose of serving it to other people to eat. I grew up fearing dinner at anyones home who announced that venison was on the dinner menu. It was always served covered with an unpalatable amount of onions or garlic to cover up it’s gamey flavour. It was also either cooked beyond recognition in an attempt to make it tender or ground up into sausage with bacon to compensate for venison’s exceptionally lean characteristics.

Now that I’m older and have a greater understanding of foods I have come to appreciate venison and how to properly prepare it. Of all the big game meats, the most extreme variation in flavour does occur in venison. Depending on the species, its age, how and where the animal is harvested from are the main influences on its flavour. Deer that graze in farmers fields on corn are probally a nuisance to the farmer but are my prefference to eat as they tend to have a more mellow flavour opposed to those harvested from Northern Ontario that grow up eating twigs, bark and cedar as they tend to taste like twigs, bark and cedar. The meat from mature males harvested during the rut is always stronger in flavour and too gamey to enjoy. Game animals that are wounded or literally hunted down often have so much adrenaline in their bloodstream that one will taste the adrenaline in it’s flesh.

Freshly arrived Canada Geese called Niska

Freshly arrived Canada Geese called Niska

Dad’s Birthday dinner forester

Venison is not always easy to obtain. That which is farm-raised is most often sold to fine dining establishments, while venison harvested from the wild cannot be sold in Canada and can only be enjoyed by hunters or their friends. During the 1990’s, based upon farm-raised venison figures, venison consumption in North America almost tripled.  The quest for variety and unusual taste sensations drove the demand for venison, but also the emphasis on healthy and natural foods gave it a significant boost. Venison is high in protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. In addition, venison is very lean. A deer has 5% body fat whereas other domesticated animals have up to 25%.

The lower fat content and higher protein levels in venison are the qualities that dictate how it must be cooked. Most recipes call for the addition of fats, such as olive oil or bacon to compensate for the lack of fat in the meat. Venison must be cooked quickly using high heat methods such as grilling or pan fry. It should be removed from the heat source earlier than other meats would be because it will retain heat and continue to cook  It also should be allowed to rest for 3-5 minutes before serving and should never be cooked beyond medium doneness.Simply put for one to serve a medium venison steak one needs to cook the steak to medium-rare and then remove it from the heat and allow it to rest covered with foil for 3-5 minutes depending on the steaks thickness and then serve.

Always preheat the oven, skillet, grill or barbecue before cooking venison. Brush the steaks with olive oil before pan-frying or grilling to allow it to brown more readily and retain its natural juices. Cook it quickly, at high heat to prevent it from drying out.

I find that blackberries, redcurrant, red wine and juniper are some of the classic flavours to pair with venison, which I might add are not available fresh from the local marketplace however I did get a bottle of Raspberry Merlot Drizzle from Kawartha Country Winery on my drive home after visiting  my friend Frank at the Young’s Point General Store who gave me half a dozen venison steaks that came from a deer that he had harvested locally.

Using the above guidelines you should be able to cook the perfect venison steak  and then apply a bit of the drizzle to finish the steak. I reccomend serving it with garlic roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Plucking the geese is a mighty task!

Plucking the geese is a mighty task!

Venison ajar

 

Not too long ago the refrigerator was not a common household fixture. When animals were harvested for their flesh lack of this appliance posed a bit of a problem for safely storing the large quantities of meat. Some of the meat would be preserved by methods like smoking, salting or drying it; but the greater part of it was stored like fruits and vegetables by canning it.

Talking with neighbors and friends throughout the region it sounds like the local harvest of venison has been a successful one with many freezers exceeding capacity. This surplus of meat is perfect to be used for canning.

The art of canning meat is not limited to hunters or those who live on farms as all meats can be processed and stored by the canning method. Although poultry meats can be canned, red meats like beef, pork, lamb, or venison provide the best results.

Meat that has been stored away in jars makes for quick and easy meals over the winter months and is great to have available for when we get snowbound in the coming months. It is easy to prepare by making a gravy from the juices trapped in the jars and serving it over rice, noodles or potatoes. It also allows you to quickly make stews, soups or casseroles.

To safely jar meat you will need to use a pressure canner which differs from a pressure cooker as it allows several quart sized jars to be processed at once. Pressure canners operate under a great deal of pressure and should be used according to the owner’s manual as they can potentially explode if incorrectly used.

 

Meat in a Jar

Pressure Canner
Canner Jars with rings and lids
Canning tongs

Long handled metal spoon

Non-Iodized salt
Meat of your choice

Boiling water

Method:
Wash and sterilize jars, lids, rims and all of the utensils to be used in boiling water. Place 1 tsp. of non-iodized salt into each sterilized jar.
Cut the meat of your choice into 1″ cubes removing all excess fat and tendons. Firmly pack the meat into the sterilized jars using the spoon. Fill the jars until they are about 1 to 2 inches from the rim.

Next pour boiling water into the jars until about an inch from the jar’s rim. This time use the spoon to release all of the trapped air in and around the meat by gently applying pressure to the meat.  Top the jars off with more boiling water if needed to keep the water level one inch from the rim.

With a paper towel wipe down the jar rims to ensure that nothing will get in the way of the jar sealing properly. Place the lids on top of the jars and screw the rings on tightly. Once you have enough jars prepped to fill your canner; carefully place all the jars in the canner. Fill the canner with water to the manual’s recommended amount. Follow the directions for your canner; and secure the lid in place and bring the canner up to pressure. I recommend that you cook the jar meat at 11-12 pounds for an hour. During the hour cooking process do not leave the pressure canner unattended as they can quickly over pressurize to dangerous levels.

After the hour of cooking at the recommended pressure turn off the burner and allow the canner to cool down naturally and return to normal pressure on its own.  Remove the jars and allow them to cool down. Confirm that the jars are properly sealed after cooling down. Label the jars and store in a cool dark place.

The Chefs of Peterborough

The Chefs of Peterborough

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