A couple of weekends ago we hosted a lunch at the Farm Kitchen that I am particularly proud of - it was a little celebration of my sister-in-law Penny Hanan’s new business 1803 Artisan Deer Design and the bringing together of many threads of our family enterprise here in Orange.
Andrew and Judith Hansen have been farming deer here for over 30 years. Tim got in on the act 10 years ago when a property adjoining the existing family plot came up for sale and he took a punt (or rather, the bank did). I came on the scene eight years ago and we have been slowly building our business, Mandagery Creek Venison every year.
With the opening of our Farm Kitchen in 2012, we finally had the ability to welcome guests onto the farm, albeit once a month, and show them what we do, why we do it and then sit down to share a meal together. We are proud of the holistic way we farm, the wellbeing of our beautiful animals and the meat we produce and happy to share it with interested visitors.
Then, to really close the circle of goodness, earlier this year Penny decided to start her own business taking the by-products of ours and transforming them into stunning handmade goods. The range includes hand forged knives with antler handles, hand printed deer leather cushions, hand stitched deer leather bags and pouches and lots more.
So we leave nothing to waste. We embrace the nose-to-tail philosophy entirely, or should I say, antler-to-tail and we are proud of it.
Last Saturday’s lunch was a really nice way to celebrate all of this with twenty guests and the family. My niece Pippa was on hand as the world’s best teenage waitress, Penny spoke about her business and helped in the kitchen and Tim took everyone on a farm tour that lasted way too long, landing him in trouble with the cranky kitchen lady (me, below). Thanks to Andrew and Judith's eight rows of reisling grapes, we also had a few bottles of specially labelled family plonk (Hansen's Half Acre) to toast the day with.
Venison carpaccio with marinated beans and toasted walnutsOne of the simplest and best ways to prepare venison is as a carpaccio and this version, with it's mellow green bed of beans is my new favourite. Serves 4-6.
1 x 500g piece Mandagery Creek Venison topside
2 tbsp olive oil
250g green beans, trimmed
1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (I love Ross and Sally Smith's locally grown ones)
For the marinade
1/2 red onion, very finely diced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 cup mixed soft herbs (chervil, tarragon and parsley is good)
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Rub the venison in a little olive oil and place a saucepan over high heat. Sear the meat for a minute on each side or until really well caramelised all over. Wrap tightly in plastic and then place in the fridge for an hour (this makes it easier to slice). Combine marinade ingredients together in a large bowl and bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. When almost ready to serve, plunge the beans in boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes (but still green with a slight crunch), drain then throw straight into the marinade bowl, toss a few times so the beans are completely covered in the marinade and their heat 'cooks' the flavours together. Arrange on a serving platter then thinly slice the venison and drape across beans. Scatter with walnuts, drizzle with a little extra olive oil and serve.
Our next Farm Kitchen lunch, and the last for the year, will be held on Saturday December 14, please email me if keen to come. And please do jump over to Penny’s website for a good look at her wonderful range.