Ask most people about charcuterie and the long established old favourites are usually mentioned. Parma ham, Serrano, salami, chorizo and bresaola. Traditionally these products were made with pork and produced in countries like Italy, Spain or Germany, a way of preserving meat and ensuring a longer shelf life.
Scotland, however has it’s own brand of charcuterie made from sustainably sourced wild venison and over the past few years, charcuterie products made by Great Glen Game have become a favourite with food lovers and chefs throughout the country.
Established in 2003 and based at the Great Glen in the Scottish highlands, owners Jan Jacob and Anja Baak set about producing quality venison charcuterie products. Using only Scottish wild venison, sourced from estates and small landowners in their local area, the company now boasts a number of award winning products in it’s range.
2013 has been a particularly successful year for the company with their Green Pepper Venison Salami, firstly gaining 3 stars at the Great Taste Awards, followed by greater recognition when it went on to be judged ‘Charcuterie product of the Year’ at the annual Great Taste Golden Fork Dinner.
Great Taste Awards are just that, all about the taste of the products and the green pepper salami is a well deserved winner of the award. The Judges commented,” Very appetising aroma and a fine, soft moist texture. The balance of pepper is just right. It is powerful but not over-powering”
The Great Glen Game charcuterie range includes, chorizo and chilli chorizo, pepperoni, salami and bresaola. Sold throughout the UK in stores including Fortum and Masons,and Wholefoods, the charcuterie is recognised as a brand that wins on taste and quality.
The salami and the bresaola are ideal on a sharing platter and with many chefs supporting British and local produce, it can be found on the menu in restaurants throughout the country.
Venison charcuterie, with it’s wonderful gamey flavour is very lean, and ticks the boxes for being low in calories and cholesterol. I regularly include it when making venison casseroles, and the chorizo makes a delicious addition to pasta dishes. The flavour also work well with scallops and prawns and is ideal in paella or risottos.
The pepperoni and salami are favourites of mine for adding to homemade pizza and will also make impressive canapés, where normally Parma ham and other charcuterie is recommended.
Look around any supermarket these days and the freezer and chilled sections are now laden are with christmas canapés and party food. Whilst much of it will be seen as convenient at such a busy time of year, it can be over packaged and overpriced. Whilst there’s no denying the convenience factor, last year I decided against buying any of these foods, opting instead to use a range of venison charcuterie to make simple canapes.
Along with some other ingredients, I made some very quick canapes and starters when needed and to be honest they were tastier and more interesting than some of mass produced party foods available.
Many people admit that their food shopping habits change in the run up to Christmas and end up spending unnecessary amounts of money on the so called party foods. I will put my hand up and say that in the past, yes, I have been a guilty participant. My excuse was that some unexpected visitors would turn up. Being a preserved meat, the charcuterie has a long use by date, which makes it ideal at the festive season and means it’s less likely to end up being wasted.
Some of my canapés included,
Oatcakes or blinis spread with Dunlop Dairy cream cheese with black pepper and oatmeal, topped with a slice of salami or bresaola. Garnish with fresh herbs such as flat leaf parsley and maybe a small piece of gherkin.
Crostini spread with either a cream cheese or a mild Galloway Chilli Jam and topped with finely chopped venison chorizo and fresh herbs.
A bite sized piece of Barwheys Dairy cheddar wrapped with rocket, green pepper salami and secured with a cocktail stick.
Chorizo in red wine. Cut the chorizo into 1/2 in thick chunks. Finely chop a shallot and sauté for about 1 min. Add the chorizo, cook for 1 minute, add 100 ml wine and cook for about 5 mins. This can be made earlier and then served warm, sprinkled with freshly chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley.
These are all very simple but flavoursome canapés. Adapt to suit your own taste and experiment with ingredients such as different herbs, cheeses, baby plum tomatoes, olives, and flavoured mayonnaise.
If food is on your Christmas gift list, Great Glen Game charcuterie will be a real quality ingredient to include in a gift basket or hamper. Mixed with ingredients such as chutneys, flavoured oils, crackers and wine, it will make a fantastic gift.
For information and a full list of Stockists see http://www.greatglengame.co.uk E:firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @greatglengame
Thanks to Paul Johnson at http://www.coppermango.com Twitter @coppermango for permission to use the main photograph in the collage of starters.
Also thanks to Anja and Jan Jacob at Great Glen Game for wonderful products to review and for use of some of their photographs.