Venison Skewers with Bourbon Umami Marinade

These simple skewers are delectable, a great light yet satisfying appetizer or finger food for parties!
1# Venison (cut from tenderloins, Denver leg or medallions)
2 T Dijon Mustard
1 t Black Pepper, ground
¼ C Brown Sugar
2 T Soy Sauce (we used Tamari)
1 t Worcestershire Sauce
1 Shallot, minced
¼ C Bourbon

Small Wooden Skewers


  1. Cube the venison into pieces that are just smaller than a single bite.  Try to keep the piece size as uniform as possible for even cooking.

  3. Combine all the other ingredients in a zip-top bag, then add the venison. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 ½ to 6 hours.

  5. During the last hour the venison is in the marinade, soak the skewers in water.

  7. Put the meat on the skewers and grill to rare or medium rare (approx. 2-3 minutes per side). Serve!



Layman’s Guide to Livestock Terminology

If you are ever hanging around cattle or sheep farmers, here’s some good jargon to know so you can understand the nuances of what they’re talking about.


General Farming Terms:

Carcass Weight – (aka “dressed weight”) – Weight of carcass after organs, head hooves, etc removed.


Live Weight – Weight of the live animal.


Paddock – Another word for field


Runv.  Raise, as in “we run 300 sheep”.



Angus – A breed of black cattle known for superior marbling. Originally from Scotland. More Info Here


Hereford – Like angus, this brown & white breed is known for better marbling.  More Info Here


Bull – Uncastrated male


Cow – Female for reproduction


Dam – Breeding female


Heifer – Young cow that hasn’t been bred.
Put a Bull to – breed via natural (i.e. not artificial) insemination
Sire – Breeding bull
Steer – Castrated male
Yearling – An animal over 1 year of age.  Also applied to horses.



Cervena – Venison brand program focusing only on tender (& generally boneless) cuts of venison from animals under three years of age.
Faun – Young deer
Hind – Female deer
New Zealand Red Deer – The primary species raised in New Zealand.  Originally introduced for hunting.


Stag – Male deer



Ewe – Female sheep
Fattening Lambs – Lambs being finished before processing


Go to Ram – breed via natural (i.e. not artificial) insemination


Hogget – Juvenile sheep over 12 months


Lambn. Juvenile sheep aged 12 months or less

            v.To give birth (to a lamb)
Lamb at Foot – Young un-weaned lambs following their mothers


Lambing Rate – % of replacement of ewes with lambs. 100% lambing rate means that in the herd, on average, ewes that are bred produce one lamb. Higher than 100% means that some ewes have twins.  Many farmers in New Zealand are breeding for specific genetics that promote a higher % of twins.


Merino – A Spanish breed of sheep prized for its exceptionally fine wool. Now quickly becoming known for its unique meat characteristics like a milder flavor. More Info Here
Mutton – Meat from an adult sheep


Ram – Uncastrated male sheep


Romney – (aka Romney Marsh) – a English sheep breed that plays an important role in New Zealand’s wool & meat exports.


Sire Ram – breeding ram


Some NZ Terms for Meat Cuts:

Eye Fillet – Beef tenderloin


Cube Roll – Whole boneless ribeye roll


Scotch Fillet – Ribeye steak



Consumer Reports Compares Grain & Grass-Fed Ground Beef

In a recent article entitled “How Safe is Your Ground Beef?”, Consumer Reports not only explores the safety of ground beef, but also compares the lifestyle of grain-fed cattle vs grass-fed. They noticed a distinct difference in the safety of the resulting beef between the two diets & lifestyles.


“One of the most significant findings of our research is that beef from conventionally raised cows was more likely to have bacteria overall, as well as bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, than beef from sustainably raised cows….We know that sustainable methods are better for the environment and more humane to animals. But our tests also show that these methods can produce ground beef that poses fewer public health risks.”


Check out the full article for an exhaustive investigation & more detail!



Farmer Spotlight – Les & Louise Keeper at Coutts Island

Les & Louise Keeper raise Angus, Hereford, Charolais & Limousin cattle at Coutts Island just outside Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island.  Their farm is what’s known as a finishing operation, buying other farm’s steers and raising them to processing weight (“finishing” them) on an all-grass diet.

Could you tell us about the history of your farm?

I bought the farm in 2008. It’s unique as it’s 15 minutes from the center of the city [central business district] but totally rural and private in an idyllic natural setting, on a side-road that most NZers have never been down.


Originally the farm was sheep and grain. We have completely reconditioned the farm and are now living the dream. We have water on tap by irrigation and we fatten beautiful prime steers. Because of our proximity to the city the land use is restricted ie: not allowed to dairy because of city water concerns, which suits us down to the ground. We are under the flight path, which we hope will protect us from land developers and increasing rates and demands.

How did you get into farming?

I was born on a farm and been involved with farming all of my life. At different times I ventured off farm working in executive and Board roles, but I am really happy to be back on the farm – they’ll have to take me off in a box, I’m not leaving.


What is rewarding about farming for you?

Firstly doing something with your hands that you can look back behind you and see the results. I can’t think of any greater prize than a great piece of dirt and working with livestock. The people in the agricultural service industries that we work with all share an appreciation of the land.


Could you describe the land you farm on?

We farm on the East coast of the South Island in New Zealand, on the banks of the Waimakariri River, on the outskirts of Christchurch. The soil is flat, rich, free-draining river silt. The farm is fully irrigated with crisp dry winters and hot dry summers with no humidity. It’s the ideal place to farm. We have a beautiful spring fed trout stream running through the middle of the farm and look out onto the snow-capped Southern Alps.

What are some key elements of your farming philosophy?

Most importantly we are farming the soil, the grass we grow is secondary. I boast that we grow the tastiest grass in the world, which means we really have to look after our soils. We no longer cultivate or grow winter forage crops, all In the interest of the biodiversity and health of the soil.


How many animals do you run?  Why do you run those livestock?

We buy in approximately 2,000 rising 2-year old beef steers per year. Our numbers peak in the spring and through the winter may get as low as 200.


We feed only grass, with any surplus grass made into silage and fed back to them. We fatten Angus, Hereford, Charolais & Limousin.  These all qualify for SFF contracts and are eligible for the EQ premiums [the Reserve Program].

How does it make you feel to know that families & chefs in America are enjoying your meat?

Very proud to be a farmer. We travel to France each year and like Americans they have an appreciation for good food. It’s great to see people celebrating the best of beef.



Venison, Hazelnut Cream & Lingonberry Jam

An elegant hors d’oeuvre or classy light-yet-filling lunch, this recipe is simple but luxurious.  It doesn’t have to be served hot, so the components can be made ahead of time for a picnic or party.
Adapted from Matthew Young’s Brook Green Wild Food Market recipe
Ingredients:                       Servings: 2-3 Lunch or 4-6 Appetizer
Roast Venison:
Venison Tenderloin
1 t Pink Peppercorns
½ t Black Peppercorns
2 t Juniper Berries
2 t Allspice
1 t Salt
1 T Butter
1 t High Heat Oil (grapeseed, canola, safflower, etc)
Hazelnut Cream:
7 oz Crème Fraiche
1/2 c Hazelnuts
Salt to Taste
Lemon Juice to Taste
Lingonberry Jam
Artisan Bread Loaf
Sea Salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Combine the juniper berries, peppercorns, allspice and teaspoon of salt in a spice grinder (you could also use a clean coffee grinder). Grind to a fine powder.

  5. Rub the spice blend evenly over the entire surface of the tenderloin.

  7. Combine the butter and high heat oil in an oven-safe frying pan. Get the pan quite hot over medium high heat, then add the tenderloin and sear it on all sides until it develops a brown crust.

  9. Move the pan to the oven and roast the tenderloin to an internal temperature of 130 degrees (check it after 7 minutes).

  11. When the tenderloin has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and put it on a plate covered with a loose layer of foil. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes while you make the hazelnut cream.

  13. Make the Hazelnut Cream. Put the hazelnuts in a blender and blend until ground into nut meal.  Add the crème fraiche and continue to blend until the hazelnuts and crème become a smooth consistent mixture.


    Taste & add salt & lemon juice as necessary.


  15. Thinly slice & toast the bread. Spread it with the hazelnut cream.

  17. Thinly slice the venison tenderloin & lay strips of it on top of the hazelnut cream. Top the venison with some sea salt and lingonberry jam. Serve.



Farmer Spotlight – Ceri Lewis at Mount Linton Station

Ceri Lewis manages the beautiful farm at Mount Linton Station, producing some of New Zealand’s finest Angus beef in a truly idyllic setting.  We interviewed him about what they do there & why.

What is Mount Linton’s Station’s history?
Mount Linton was first settled in 1856 and has been farmed by the current owners since 1903, it covers 32,000 acres and is the largest privately owned property in terms of livestock numbers in New Zealand. In 2003 a 50% shareholding was purchased by the Masfen family.
I have managed the Station for the last 10 years.


How did you get into farming & what’s the most rewarding thing about it?
I was sent to New Zealand from Wales as a 16 year old wild out of control schoolboy onto a

remote Station on the east coast of the North Island. I loved it so much I never went back and that’s how I got into farming.
The most rewarding thing about farming for me is being able to produce some of the best quality food in the world using mother nature, genetics and the latest innovations in farming.

What types of land does Mount Linton encompass?
We have a balance of land types on the Station ranging from fertile rolling downs growing all the best quality grasses at about 200m above sea level (asl) to steeper fertile hills at 4-600m asl and further out we have native tussock country at 6-850m asl which is basically untouched.

What’s your farming philosophy?
Key elements of our farming philosophy are to produce a niche product from animals that require very few inputs, essentially animals that survive and thrive in our environment with the right genetic makeup. Our farming goals are to produce a consistently high quality product twelve months of the year in a completely sustainable farming system.


How are your farm & methods unique?
Our farm is unique because we have a vast range of land types and topography from intensive finishing systems to extensive native pastures and we have large numbers sheep and cattle that thrive in our environment and have the eating qualities that the most discerning consumers desire.

How does it make you feel to know that families & chefs in America are enjoying your meat?
It is immensely satisfying to know that the meat we take such pride and care in producing is being enjoyed by families and chefs in America and if I could say one thing to them it would be keep enjoying it safe in the knowledge that it has been produced in a clean green country in a sustainable environment with full traceability by people who take a huge amount of pride in their animals.

What’s your favorite cut of the meat you raise?  How do you like it prepared?
My favorite cut of meat is a grass fed marbled Angus eye fillet [tenderloin], cooked rare over the grill on the barbeque, to die for!


Why do you work with Silver Fern?
We work with Silver Fern because we see them as the leaders in the Beef business in New Zealand, they are innovative, they undertake research and development, they are all about adding value and understand the need to have a niche product that gives the consumer an outstanding eating experience every time.
Any plans for the future?
Our plans for the future are to keep getting better at what we do which is produce a consistent, niche beef and sheep meat product through innovation, genetics, feeding and a high level of animal and pasture management.



Venison Crostini w/ Black Trumpet Gremolata  

The gremolata used in this dish is an unusual one, combining preserved lemon (instead of fresh) and black trumpets with more typical parsley.  One taste though, and you’ll be looking for other dishes to add it to (perhaps venison osso bucco?).
Ingredients:                                               Servings: 4 Lunch or 6 Appetizer
1 Venison Tenderloin
1 ounce Dried Black Trumpet Mushrooms
6 cups Water
2 T minced Preserved Lemon
3 T minced Italian Parsley
1 T Peppery Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 head Cauliflower
1 + 1 T High Heat Cooking Oil (Canola, Safflower or Grapeseed)
1 T Unsalted Butter
1 t freshly ground Black Pepper
1 + ½ t Salt
Loaf of Artisanal Bread

  1. Use the stove or microwave to get the water very hot (but not quite boiling). Pour it over the mushrooms and weight them down with a plate so they stay below the surface.
    Soak the mushrooms until tender (15-30 minutes), then remove them from the water.


  3. Set your oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the black pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.

  5. Cut the cauliflower into approximately equal-sized florets and place them in a sauce pot. Cover them with most of the mushroom rehydrating liquid (leave the last cup, with any collected sediment, behind).
    Add water as necessary to cover the cauliflower by at least an inch.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower has become tender, but isn’t falling apart.

  7. Dry the mushrooms with a towel, then put them in a hot frying pan oiled with 1 tablespoon of the high heat oil. Sprinkle the mushrooms with 1 teaspoon of the salt, give them a quick stir to coat them with the salt and oil, then leave them be.
    Once they’ve caramelized and their moisture has evaporated, they should be smelling wonderful.  Remove them from the pan and set them side to cool.


  1. Rub the venison loin with the salt & pepper mixture. Heat the remaining tablespoon of high heat oil in an oven-safe frying pan or skillet.


Sear the venison tenderloin on all sides until it develops a brown crust, then move the pan to the oven and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees.


  1. Remove the pan from the oven and the tenderloin from the pan. Put the venison on a plate, loosely covered with foil, to rest for 10-15 minutes.

  3. While the venison is resting, use a blender to puree the cauliflower with the butter and some of the simmering liquid (add one or two tablespoons at a time until it reaches the right consistency). Taste & season as necessary.

  5. Make the gremolata: chop the mushrooms and mix them with the parsley, extra virgin olive oil and preserved lemon. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.

  7. Thinly slice the bread and toast it in the oven or a toaster oven.  Spread cauliflower puree on each piece, top it with thin slices of the venison, then a teaspoon of the gremolata. 
  8. Serve.



Farmer Spotlight – The Aclands at Mt. Peel

John Acland’s family immigrated to New Zealand from the south of England in 1854, settling Mt. Peel and starting a farm there.


Mt. Peel’s 12,000 acres of land ranges from river flats (approx. 3,700 acres) to foothill country that makes up the rest of the farm.  The Aclands run a mixture of 13,000 sheep, 2,000 cattle and 6,000 deer on that land.  Over the most recent period they’ve been increasing their stock numbers, but now they’re in a consolidation period where they’re focusing on developing the land and their husbandry to better finish the animals in a shorter period of time. 

Asked what it’s like farming deer, John says they’re majestic creatures, but trickier to handle than the more docile sheep and cattle.  They’re more easily frightened and their jumping ability requires 6’ fences to keep them in pasture.  That said, they’re also more self-sufficient, living as if wild in his hill country without human supervision for seven to eight months at a time.


John’s goals include farming sustainably and profitably in order to have a fruitful farm to pass down to future generations.  In the shorter term he’d like to see more of his steers grade into Silver Fern’s more exclusive programs like the Reserve program.


John gets a kick out of knowing his meat is being enjoyed in the US.  He’s always been interested in asking where the meat comes from when dining out,

and he’s happy to know that his farm is the answer at some high end American restaurants.


If he could send a message along with the meat, he’d say that customers can rest assured that the meat they’re buying was produced in an animal friendly & ethical way, brought up truly free range, in some of the best farming country in the world.  It couldn’t be raised in a better place.


For his own part, John’s favorite cut is a porterhouse steak cooked on the barbeque, though he’s also partial to venison fillet/backstrap and a good frenched rack of lamb.


Working with Silver Fern Farms today is an easy decision for the Aclands.  They’ve worked with the coop for a long time, and feel they have a good working relationship where they can discuss anything and be heard.  They’ve always looked out for the Aclands’ interests, and that makes them loyal.



Merino Shoulder Racks & “Adobo” Gastrique

This recipe marinates delicate, delicious merino shoulder racks in a sauce inspired by Philippine adobo, packed with sweet, tangy, umami savoriness.  Once the racks are pulled out of the marinade, it’s simmered down with honey into a thick, sweet & sour gastrique sauce.


We recommend serving this dish with white rice and a nice green salad.


Servings: 2


2 Merino Shoulder Racks

3/4 C Honey Wine Vinegar

1 T Tamari Soy Sauce

1 Bay Leaf

1 T Fish Sauce

8 cloves of crushed Garlic

1 t crushed Black Peppercorns

1/4 C Honey

1-2 T Neutral High Heat Oil



  1. Combine the vinegar, tamari, bay leaf, garlic, fish sauce & peppercorns.  Pour them over the shoulder racks in a bowl or ziplock bag.  Marinate the racks in the refrigerator overnight, flipping them periodically for even coverage.

  3. Remove the racks from the marinade, and pour the marinade through a strainer, reserving the liquid. Pat the racks dry with paper towels.

  5. Sear the racks in a hot, oiled skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, at least three minutes per side.

  7. Reduce the heat and continue to sear the racks until they reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees on a meat thermometer.


  1. Remove the racks from the pan and let them rest, loosely covered with foil, for 15 minutes before optionally slicing into chops.

  3. While the racks are resting, pour the honey into a small saucepan and cook it over medium-low heat until it darkens. Add the reserved marinade and stir. Continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce reaches a syrup consistency.

  5. Serve the merino racks whole or as chops, drizzled with the gastrique.



Farmer Spotlight – William & Karen Oliver

William & Karen Oliver own Waerenga and Three Rivers farms. Waerenga had previously been owned by Oliver’s family with the two of them leasing the land until 2013 when they bought it outright.  They live on Waerenga farm with their daughter and two sons.

Waerenga farm comprises 1,912 acres of land.  Here the Olivers raise over 3,000 sheep, over 500 cattle and over 1,700 deer.  They also grow about 40 acres of corn, which they sell to the dairy industry.

Three Rivers

Three Rivers is slightly smaller than Waerenga at 1,902 acres.  Here the Olivers raise over 3,000 sheep, over 300 cattle and over 1,000 deer.  They also grow over 123 acres of corn.

What’s rewarding about farming for you?

Healthy animals, living in a beautiful place with clean air, clean water and green grass.  We enjoy a happy work environment with our staff and their families.


What’s it like raising venison?

Deer are a beautiful animal to farm.  They are intelligent which means we are constantly trying to outsmart them!! The deer on the farm are always watching and are aware of what we are doing, they remind me of a cowboy and indian movie, how the indians are lined up on a ridge watching the cowboys.


After 3 decades of farming deer they have become quite domesticated and are a lot easier to handle physically in the shed when they come in for animal health treatments etc.

How does it make you feel to know Americans are enjoying your venison?

We think it is great, there is a great sense of pride in knowing that a top end product we have produced is so sought after and enjoyed.  We feel proud also knowing that our animals have lived a good healthy existence here.

What’s your favorite cut of venison? How do you like it prepared?

Venison tenderloin served with a horseradish cream.


Why do you work with Silver Fern Farms?

We put huge value on working with co-operatives.  Nearly all our business is done through co-ops where we can.  We do this as we believe it is the only way for us to receive fair value from our end consumer or service supplier….We own shares in all the co-ops we do business with.  We are 100% loyal to our co-ops and expect the same back in terms of return, information and industry good.


Goals for the Future

William & Karen’s goals primarily center around further developing their farm land, providing a stimulating & enjoyable environment for their staff, and passing the land on to their children when they retire.