Roe deer (venison)
Deer first appeared in Eastern Siberia and Central Asia. It later expanded to Europe.
Like its relatives, roe deer have always been hunted in every season as a source of meat.
Roe venison is sold fresh, vacuum packed, frozen, and in prepared products (patés, terrines, etc.).
Whatever the season, sales of roe venison, like all game meat, is subject to strict legislation, whether the hunt took place in France or abroad.
Buying from a wholesaler
This is possible all year round.
Before reaching a wholesaler, the venison is required to have passed through an authorized processing facility and undergone inspection by veterinary services, after which the meat is marked with a stamp.
Each piece of meat must bear a label indicating the precise name of the product, the country where the animal was killed, its weight, the use-by date if it fresh or the best-before date for a frozen piece, the wholesaler's identifying mark (last handler), and authorization number.
This is also required for processed products.
Buying from a butcher or poulterer involves the same conditions because they are supplied by a wholesaler.
Buying from a hunter
The purchase of roe venison from a hunter is only possible in France during the hunting season (by prefectural order). This can vary according to the region.
A hunter can only sell game meat within a distance of 80 km, whole or in pieces with the skin intact. Before selling, the hunter must inspect the dead roe deer and fill out a "game accompaniment form" in four copies: the third copy is for the restaurant owner.
A whole roe deer must bear an identification tag showing the hunt number, and the date, and place the animal was killed. If it is sold in pieces, they must be accompanied by a slip showing the same reference details.
Game meat control log
Any restaurants selling game meat or products containing game meat must keep a game meat control log, either in hard copy or digital, with the following details:
. Date of delivery to the restaurant
. Registration number
. Supplier's identity or business name
. The common and scientific name of the animal
. Format: piece or whole animal and name
. Origin. Record must be made of whether the animal was killed in a hunt or farmed.
. Game meat origin certification: the nature and number of the mark or document certifying its origin.
. The date the hunt took place, in case it is a direct purchase from a hunter.
Roe venison should be a dark red and shiny, not dry.
This sheen indicates the starting point for any eventual aging.
The purchase of vacuum-packed meats should be avoided: this procedure dries out the meat by removing a part of its blood. It begins to deteriorate very quickly in the bag, and the meat may take on the taste.
Roe venison is cut in the same way as lamb.
The firmest cuts – shoulder and haunch – need marinating if the animal is old. It is traditionally used for civet dishes. It is also used in terrine and paté.
The fillet, ribs, and loin chops, can be simply fried and served with a poivrade or grand veneur sauce. They can also be grilled or broiled.
The trimmings are used for jus.
Roe venison should be kept in a cool room at 0-4ºC.
The meat should be protected from fans or air flows that can dry it out quickly.
This can be done by placing it in grapeseed oil or in a plastic container with a lid. It should then rest on a rack to prevent it from soaking in its blood.
Roe venison is low in fat and high in protein. It is also rich in iron. Like all game meat, it contains a good deal of cholesterol and uric acid.
Roe venison (only supplied by wholesalers) can be found all year round.
However, it is in fall and winter, during the hunting season, that this meat is found on menus.