This is a recipe inspired by a medieval recipe but with significant deviations, and was served as part of the feast at Ymir 2008.
Venison was part of the Norse diet, though how important a part varied based on what part of Scandinavia is discussed – the farther north, the more game was eaten, and deer was the most commonly hunted animal (Ward).
An important part of keeping the feast under budget (at $6 per person, which was fairly low even in 2008) was the donation of approximately 40 lbs of assorted venison – shoulders, hams and even a tenderloin. Given the assortment of parts, and the limited quantity of meat (only 2 oz per person, once boned) the most efficient way to cook and serve the game was to cut it into 1” chunks and cook slowly, with a lot of moisture.
Another recipe from Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks states:
Venyson in broth. Take rybbes of venyson, and wassh hem faire in Water, And streyn the Water thorgh a Streynour into a faire potte, and cast the Venyson thereto, parcely, Sauge, powder of peper, cloue3, Maces, Vinegre, salt, And late hem boile til thei be ynow, and serue it forth. (Venyson in Broth)
So moist cooking of venison (as opposed to roasting) was not a modern idea. Mushrooms were known to the Vikings, although the combination was not a choice that has documentation, nor is the red wine I added.
Instead of the cloves and mace, I chose pepper, coriander and juniper berries as more spices that would have been available to the Norse in place of the exotic mace and cloves – coriander was found in graves at Jorvik (Ward).
Venison with Mushrooms
5 lbs venison shoulder or ham, cut into 1” chunks
3 lbs sliced mushrooms
1 bottle red wine
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs juniper berries
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs coriander seeds
- (Optional) Sear cubed meat until brown on all sides – while this may not be a medieval technique, it adds to the flavor of the stew.
- Deglaze pan with red wine and vinegar, and mushrooms and whole spices, and salt to taste.
- Place in 300° oven until meat is tender.
- Serve with barley frumenty or other grain.