Venison in a Sauce Recipe

As published in the Barony of Blackstone Mountain’s newsletter, The Banner, and BMDL’s newsletter, The Althing:

Venison in a Sauce
by Lady Astridr Vigaskegg

While doing my research for the feast at Leihen Helvetia, I fell in love with this particular recipe from Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. I was able to bring about ~10 gallons of venison (thanks, Dad!) to the feast, and I prepared this dish with no instructions aside from the original recipe itself. I’ve done my best to transcribe the process into approximate measurements, as “shake a handful or so of ____ over the large pan of ~4.5 gallons of venison until it looks decent” really doesn’t help anyone reading this. My two bits of advice for this are: 1.) To get as much blood out of the venison as possible, brine it once or twice in the water/vinegar solution. 2.) Play around with the spices before you add it to the venison, if you’re uncertain. As long as you keep the spices balanced, there’s no wrong way to make this, so have fun with it!

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553
7 To make a sauce in which to put a haunch of venison

Lard it well and roast it and make a good sauce for it. Take Reinfal and stir cherry syrup into it, and fry Lebkuchen in fat and chop good sweet apples, almonds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, currants, pepper and raisins and let it all cook together. When you want to serve it, then pour the sauce over it. It is also for marinating a boar’s head. Then cook it in two parts water and one third vinegar. The head of a pig is also made in this manner.

Modern Recipe:
Apple cider vinegar
1 c white wine
1/3 c cherry (or berry) juice concentrate
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1 c water
2 large apples (or pears), sliced
5 whole cloves
3 small cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c almond slivers
1/2 c currants (or dried cranberries)
1/2 c raisins
2 T butter
Lebkuchen crumbs*

Brine venison in a 1 part-salt water and 1 part-apple cider vinegar mixture for about an hour. Rinse the meat, then set into your roasting pan. Combine the wine, syrup concentrate, and vinegar with your spices and apples and pour over the venison. Cover and bake at 325*F for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Fry the Lebkuchen in butter, add to the sauce and drippings to thicken it.

*Note: Lebkuchen cookies are a type of gingerbread cookie made with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and ginger.

Leihen Helvetia! 2012 Feast Menu

Preparing the menu for the inaugural Leihen Helvetia! event, set in the Swiss-German town of Helvetia, WV, was my first introduction to Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (1553). This was also my first completely period feast, and it derived mostly from that cookbook. I was beyond excited to find that funnel cake was period, and I think those who attended were pretty happy about it as well.

Helvetia 2012 Feast Menu

First Remove:
Cheese pasties
Mushroom pasties
Cheese & cranberry pasties
Beef & barley soup

Second Remove:
Roasted chicken with onions, pears, bacon
Venison in a sauce
Genovese tart

Third Remove:
Fruit preserves

Venison & Pork Meatballs Recipe


This past weekend was the Baronial Investiture in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael here in AEthelmearc, and it was also where Baron Janos Meszaros sat vigil to contemplate elevation to the Order of the Laurel. Sir Ian, who prepared the main spread, was kind enough to ask me if there was anything I’d like to contribute, so I volunteered meatballs — because really, who doesn’t like meatballs? They’re finger food, they’re period, and you can serve them with a variety of sauces or plain! And there happened to be roughly three pounds of venison/pork sausage in my freezer, so I decided to play with the Byzantine Keftedes recipe found over at Gode Cookery.

Aside from the obvious modification of the venison/pork sausage instead of beef or veal, I also swapped out cinnamon for ginger, added a splash of apple cider vinegar, and ditched the deep-frying (with barley) in favor of pan-searing and baking. (I’m also not a fan of writing down how much of what I use, because I tend to favor the medieval method of “until it tastes good,” so this recipe is probably best used as a guide.)

I served these with lingon berries and mustard at the vigil, and they were gone in less than 2 hours. These came out very soft, so I advise being gentle while pan-frying and transporting them.

Venison & Pork Meatballs

Makes: ~95 Meatballs

3lbs ground venison & pork (50/50 blend; pork fat content unknown)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 handful of parsley leaves (ditch the stems!)
6-10 mint leaves
3 Tbsp ginger, minced
2-3 egg yolks
Splash of red wine
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Olive oil

Add chopped onion, garlic, parsley, mint, and ginger to food processor. Process until finely chopped. (I wanted a smooth texture for the meatballs, so I processed these very finely.) Drain excess liquid if necessary. Add mixture to meat, with salt, pepper, egg yolks, wine, and apple cider vinegar. Incorporate by hand. Add breadcrumbs until desired texture is reached. Pan-sear in olive oil and simmer in wine for a few minutes on med-low, then finish in the oven at 325F for about 15 min. (Mine were soft and had a good bit of liquid in them, so I wasn’t too worried about them drying out. Judge your own carefully!)

Venison Pie Recipe

I am a big fan of the recipes found in Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. They’re full of flavor, they’re recognizable, and they take little to no tweaking to fit the modern palate. Fitting all three of these categories makes my life easier as I’m planning my menus, so I go back to this cookbook over and over.

For my barony’s first Twelfth Night revel in many years, I wanted to use locally-sourced venison, which was made easy by the family farm. Because this was a small feast and this was one of the main courses, I added standard pot-pie vegetables. The rye crust turned out to be a problem because of how coarsely-ground the flour I chose was, so it ended up as a shell and a crumble instead of a flat pie topper; this is definitely something I’ll revisit and experiment with until I get it right.

Venison Pie
66 A game pie
Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553

“Take beef fat, and chop it small, and rosemary, which can be fresh or dried. If you have none, take marjoram or anise or sage, as much as you would like. Chop them finely together, put cloves, pepper, ginger and salt into it, as much as you would like, pour one pint of wine on it. The game must be cooked beforehand. And make a shaped pastry the same way as for the veal pie, and let it bake, serve it warm. In this manner one can also prepare a loin roast.

Makes: 1 large pie
1 lb Venison
~1.5 bottles Cabernet Sauvignon (or red wine of your choice)
Herb bag (or linen or cheesecloth)
1 med onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 c mushrooms, sliced
2-3 potatoes, chopped
Ground cloves

Thoroughly soak your venison in a water-vinegar mixture until all the blood has been leeched out. (I usually do two 1-hr long soaks, but it can take longer depending on how well the deer was processed.)

Because this particular venison was a bit tough, I boiled the venison in a 1-part water, 1-part wine mixture with the herbs secured in an herb bag until the meat was cooked through. (This saves you the grief of picking out the rosemary bit-by-bit!) Use this time to chop your vegetables.

Once the meat was cooked through, I drained the water mixture, replenished my herb bag, and added roughly 1/2-3/4 bottle of wine, some water, and 2 tubs of Knorr’s concentrated beef stock to the pot, along with the herbs, spices, and vegetables. Unfortunately, all this is to taste — I don’t use measuring spoons in my kitchen if I can avoid it. 🙂 Bring your pot to a boil, then continue simmering at a reduced temperature until your vegetables are finished.

If you don’t want to make a pie, then you could cut the recipe here and have a nice stew instead. If you want to make the pie, then onwards!

Next, pull your meat and veggies from the pot and bring that delicious stock back to a hard boil, and make sure to stir it frequently. Reduce it by about a half, then pull it from the heat. If the reduction is still to runny, thicken it with cornstarch or flour until you reach the desired thickness of your gravy. Pour it over your meat and veggies and set it aside.

The last step is the obvious — you’ll need to have prepped your pie crust, whether hand-made or store-bought, you’ll pre-bake it, load the shell, and place the crust topper, and bake until crust is finished. I’m omitting my rye crust, since I wasn’t pleased with it. Google is your friend to find a recipe that works for you!

2015 Blackstone Mountain Twelfth Night Feast Menu

I became Seneschal of my barony in 2013, and ever since donning that particular hat, I’d wanted to resurrect the Twelfth Night revels that had gone the way of the dodo long before I joined. So when a member of our populace decided to step up and autocrat it for me, Lady Odette d’Arques and myself jumped on the chance to make this small feast, which was accompanied by a potluck-style day board and a dessert competition throughout the day. Odette was responsible for most of the feast, but I again tapped the resource of my father and stepmother’s rural farm for the venison pie.

Blackstone Mountain Twelfth Night 2015
Lemon duck with root vegetables
Grape sauce
Minted grapes
Venison pie
Minted peas