Any sort of game, including deer (venison) is what we call “wild meat” in the Caribbean and for the most part it’s a sort of cherished delicacy, especially around Christmas and Carnival time. I have very fond childhood memories of going hunting with my brother and dad and into my early teens we would venture out with my friends. Though I went to school in San Fernando (city), most of my spare time was spent in the country side of Guaracara, so you’d find that I’m an outdoors person at heart.
3 lbs Venison
1 heaping tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 slices ginger
1/2 small onion
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 scallion (chopped)
3 sprigs thyme
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 allspice berries
Cilantro or Shado Beni garnish
IMPORTANT: If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the entire list of ingredients (especially the curry powder which could have flour as a filler) to ensure everything meets with your gluten free dietary needs.
Have your butcher cut the venison into 1 inch pieces and if there’s bones, please include it as it adds wonderful flavors to the finished curry. Wash with lemon or lime juice (not mentioned in the ingredient list) and water and drain. Then season with the tomato, salt, black pepper, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, Caribbean Green Seasoning, scallion and scotch bonnet pepper. You can leave out the seeds of the pepper to help control the heat level and remember to wash your hands with soap and water after handling. Please allow this to marinate for a couple hours or overnight in the fridge.
Heat the vegetable oil on a medium heat in a heavy pot, then add the diced onion and garlic and cook on LOW for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the curry powder and continue cooking on LOW for another 3-5 minutes. This will toast the spices which makes up the curry blend and also cook off any raw flavors of the curry you could potentially get when the dish is finished cooking.
Now turn up the heat to high and start adding the seasoned/marinated pieces of venison. Yes, it’s ok if the marinade going into the pot. Stir well, bring to a boil.. it will spring it’s own juices and add the ginger and thyme. Reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and let it go for about 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and crank up the heat to high to burn off all that liquid. This step will help to infuse the meat with that rich curry goodness. In the same bowl you marinated the pieces of deer, swish around the 1/2 cup of water to pick up any remaining marinade.
After all the liquid is burnt off it’s time to pour in that water, the coconut milk and all spice berries and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and allow it to cook until tender. It can take between 2.5 and 3 hrs to get fall-off-the-bone tender. After 2.5 hrs it’s time personalize things a bit… cook longer if you want it more tender, adjust the salt and crank up the heat to get the gravy to the consistency you like. If you find that while cooking you’re out of liquid, you can always add a bit more water.
Turn off the stove and top with the chopped shado beni (culantro) or cilantro. You now have a brilliant rich curry using “wild meat”! The funny thing about hunting as a kid on the islands is that for the most part we were hardly ever successful, but that adventure was so much fun.