Try adding some seasonal spring veg to our roast butterflied haunch of venison. Muntjac may be the smallest breed of deer, but still packs a flavourful punch.

Roast butterflied haunch of muntjac is a classic dish perfect to cook for a late spring dinner party. If the widely known Samuel Pepys speaks highly of venison dishes then it must be the thing to eat.

Try introducing this lean meat into other British traditions. What better way to enjoy a picnic by trying one of our venison sausage rolls recipes.  If you want something a bit more hearty then try making the perfect venison burger for a more casual supper, taken outside.


Serves 2 to 4
■ 1 big bunch oregano (chopped)
■ 150ml (5fl oz) olive oil
■ 6 cloves garlic (peeled)
■ Zest and juice of 1 lemon
■ 1 chilli (chopped)
■ 1 tsp cracked black pepper
■ 1 tsp sea-salt
■ 1 haunch muntjac (about 1.2kg)
■ 1 small bunch parsley

Whizz the oregano, oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, chilli and seasoning in a food processor until you have a coarse paste. Pour it into a bowl and reserve. Remove the shank from the haunch of muntjac. This is easy if you have a sharp, thin-bladed knife.

Lay the haunch on its outside and feel the joint where the shank joins the leg. You will feel some bumps – the edges of the joint. Cut between these, then rotate the knife and cut through the obvious tendon. With a bit of pressure, the knife will go straight through and remove the shank, which we will cook later.

Carefully cut out the thigh bone and start butterflying the haunch of muntjac. Make a series of 1in-deep cuts, going outwards from where you have removed the thigh bone. Unroll the meat from centre to side, using the knife to open it up. You should be left with a sheet of meat about 11⁄2in thick and 1ft long. Next, pour half the marinade over the meat and leave it for an hour. Cook it on a medium barbecue, turning every three minutes for 20 minutes, or sear it in a big pan to brown and then roast it in a 220°C (425°F/Gas Mark 7) oven for 15 minutes. Rest it for 10 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, add some chopped parsley to the marinade and spoon it over the carved haunch of muntjac.

What about that shank? Ask your butcher to remove the tendon and saw the bone. Freeze it until you have at least eight and then braise them.

For this recipe you could either use muntjac or a young roe deer; the cooking times will be roughly the same. The meat is very different, however, so it is up to personal choice or availability. Personally, I would go for the muntjac, which has amazingly dense and delicious meat, over the roe, which is a bit stronger in flavour and softer in texture. But the muntjac is a terrible bugger to skin.