Venison Leg Roast, Portuguese Flavors with Chickpeas

Axis deer are overpopulated in Hawaii. They happen to have delicious meat that is also very dense in protein and nutrients while at the same time being mild and lean. So, it makes sense on all levels for a company like Maui Nui to realize the potential of what they have in Hawaii, humanely harvest these free ranging animals and deliver them to consumers like myself. It controls the population, keeps it healthy and provides us with tasty meat to experiment with. 

Impatient? Skip to the recipe

I ordered a couple of cuts from them, namely some neck cross cuts that I used for a simple stew and a whole butterflied leg (definitely my favorite of the two cuts) that I am posting about here. Actually this is about half of the leg piece. I butchered it, cleaned it and divided it into two roasts. Hoping to post about whatever I use the other piece for if it makes sense.

In deciding what to do with it I wanted something that focuses on the venison and does not overwhelm it in a stew or braise. It also made sense to have the meat cooked to a roughly medium temperature. So I decided to salt it and season it with a mix of cilantro, garlic, paprika and olive oil. Then I tied the roast, cooked it sous vide and seared it well to finish.

To accompany it I made chickpeas. I started with dried chickpeas and soaked them overnight. I cooked them in water with peppers, onions and a similar flavor profile to the venison seasoning. Is this dish Portuguese? Well, whenever I mix cilantro with paprika, garlic and tomato I immediately think the flavors are “Portuguese” since I have encountered this combination in a few recipes.

Venison Roast, Portuguese Flavors with Chickpeas

Servings: 4 – 6

  • 1200 – 1500 gr Venison roast, boneless, preferably leg
  • 12 – 15 gr Salt (1% of the meat weight)
  • 6 gr (2-3 cloves) garlic, minced
  • 22 gr (about half a large bunch) Cilantro, chopped
  • 6 gr (1 Tbsp) Paprika, sweet or hot
  • 3 gr (1.5 tsp) Smoked Paprika
  • 20 gr Olive oil
  • 250 gr (0.5 lb) Dried chickpeas (or canned drained chickpeas)
  • 4Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 6 gr (1 Tbsp) Paprika, sweet or hot
  • 3 gr (1.5 tsp) Smoked Paprika
  • 6 gr (2-3 cloves) garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, core removed and and cut in half across the stem
  • 22 gr (about half a large bunch) Cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red wine or sherry vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
For the Venison
  1. Butterfly and even out the thickness of the roast. You should have a rough rectangle of about 1.5 inches thick or so. Remove any gristle or silverskin.
  2. Season the meat with salt all over.
  3. Mix together the remainder of the ingredients and smear all over the inside of the meat.
  4. Roll the meat tightly into a cylinder with the seasoning on the inside. You should have a roll of no more than 2.5 inches (7 cm).
  5. Tie the meat at intervals with kitchen twine and wrap very tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for a couple of hours or up to 12 if you have the time.
  6. When ready to cook, have a water container heated to 60 C using an immersion circulator.
  7. Unwrap the meat and heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan until smoking. Sear the meat on all sides very well, about a minute on each side. 
  8. Place the roast in a plastic bag (I use either a Foodsaver vacuum sealer for this or a Freezer Ziploc bag) and cook sous vide for 6 hours. 
  9. Remove the meat from the bag, pat dry it very well and sear again on all sides to get a browned crust.
  10. Slice and serve.
  11. This can be served with potatoes, rice, a robust salad, lentils or chickpeas
For the chickpeas (can be done a couple of days ahead, cooled and reheated to serve)
  1. Soak the chickpeas in water for at least eight hours. If using canned, just drain them and skip this step and the cooking time will be much shorter.
  2. In a heavy pot, heat the olive oil and saute the peppers and onions until soft and translucent. Add both paprika and the garlic and cook for a minute.
  3. Drain the chickpeas from the soaking water and add to the pot. Stir together for a minute and add the tomato.
  4. If using dried chickpeas add enough water to cover by a couple of inches, bring to a boil and let simmer partially covered until tender, usually about an hour.
  5. If using canned chickpeas, just add water to barely cover, simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  6. When the chickpeas are tender, add the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let simmer for another 5 minutes and taste again. Add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice if you like (I usually do).

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