We rarely eat our native meats, which is a shame. Not only are they delicious and nutritious, but padded paws have less impact on our environment. Kangaroo and wallaby meat is lean, and high in protein and iron. Cooking it can be tricky: the tip is to either serve it rare or as a slow-cooked dish so it doesn’t end up tough and dry. We should also eat more venison. Deer is an introduced animal with cloven feet and maundering herds can damage our fragile environment. Eating more venison could help reduce this impact. And game animals make marvellous charcuterie, too.
Rack of Venison & beetroot risotto + 2017 Huntington Estate Special Reserve Shiraz, Mudgee, A$50
Our wedding reception was held at The Old Convent just outside of Orange. Mandagery Creek venison was a relative newcomer to the market but local cook Josie Chapman sourced racks for the main course and served them on a colourful beetroot risotto. Back then, I chose a Mudgee shiraz from Bob Robert’s Huntington Estate. The vintage was 1997. Twenty vintages on, Tim Stevens honours Bob’s dense, earthy style.
Venison pie + 2019 Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Cabernet Franc, Orange, A$50
Local chef Michael Manners has long championed game in all forms. I cheat with his venison stew recipe by turning it into a pie. Unlike many Australian cabernet francs made in the lithe Chinon style, the Ross Hill Cabernet Franc has the intensity of a decent Saint-Émilion. The 2019 has the weight and power to match the equally potent stew/my pie.
Venison Saucisson Sec + 2016 Vincent Girardin Santenay Vieilles Vignes, Côte de Beaune, France, A$74
I love the weekly markets of French towns and visited the Chagny market while on a family holiday in nearby Santenay. On one occasion, there was myriad fresh, smoked and dried sausages at one stall. The venison was my pick and it went well with a local Vincent Girardin Santenay. I reprised the pairing with an excellent venison saucisson sec from my local charcuterie purveyor, Cured. Travel memories came flooding back.
Kangaroo + 2017 Houghton Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, A$99
South Australia was well ahead of the game (pun intended) legalising the sale of kangaroo meat. So when a young chef Phillip Searle decamped from Adelaide to Sydney and opened his swish Oasis Seros restaurant in Paddington he brought his kangaroo recipes with him. In 1989, we enjoyed a raucous night at Oasis Seros with the then Houghton winemaker, Peter Dawson. Naturally we had the kangaroo with a Houghton red, the name of which is lost in the mists of time. The 2017 Gladstones I enjoyed with a rare kangaroo fillet recalled that boisterous night.
Wallaby shanks + 2015 Grey Sands The Mattock, Tasmania, A$45
I hosted an annual food and wine getaway at Cradle Mountain Lodge for almost 20 years, with the highlight being a mini-market with fledging winemakers, produce farmers and providores. Lenah Game Meats was one and the meat was presented by owners Katrina and John Kelly. Rita and Bob Richter of Grey Sands were among the winemakers who came to the getaway and their punchy Mattock was the perfect partner with Lenah’s slow-cooked wallaby shanks.
Orroroo Kangaroo Pastrami + 2017 Wines by KT 5452 Grenache Mataro, Clare Valley, A$29
The Flinders Ranges-based Orroroo Kangaroo specialises in game meats and the range of products here is astonishing. Orroroo is north of the Clare Valley so it made sense to pair Kerri Thompson’s juicy 5452 grenache mataro with the melt-in-your-mouth kangaroo pastrami – both were similar in weight and intensity.