Hirschrollbraten mit Knödel und Blaukraut
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Author: Hanno Meier
Pictures: Werner Steckmann

Refining the cheaper cuts


Werner Steckmann is an avid hunter-gatherer as well as a passionate cook, author, blogger and, in his ‘real’ life, a UI expert. The former paratrooper has enjoyed an intimate connection to nature ever since he was a young boy, climbing and testing out survival techniques. And, of course, he loves to experiment in the kitchen and cook up delicious game dishes. 

Werner Steckmann lehnt an einem Baum im Wald

Instead of relying solely on cuts like sirloin, tenderloin and haunch, Werner Steckmann also enjoys applying his culinary creativity to less sought-after cuts of meat. In keeping with his philosophy of using every part of the animal ‘from nose to tail’, the avid hunter and cook has come up with a special recipe for red deer, suitable for veal flank or boneless veal knuckle: a venison rolled roast. “That said, fallow deer, sika deer or wild boar work just as well,” says the giant Franconian cook. “Plus,” he adds, “the red wine and dark chocolate are good for the heart, and the liqueur will put you in a good mood!” His recipe perfectly combines all three ingredients. The chocolate accentuates the roasting flavors in the sauce without letting it become bitter. The liqueur is added to the red cabbage, while the red wine not only gives the roast vegetables a kick, it’s also a thirst-quencher for the cook.


  •   1kg veal flank, knuckle, etc. 
  •   300g uncooked meatloaf 
  •   1 pack mirepoix vegetable mix 
  •   3 onions 
  •   1 tsp. game spices 
  •   3 sprigs of thyme 
  •   2 tbsp. tomato paste 
  •   10 juniper berries 
  •   400ml dry, hearty red wine 
  •   750ml game stock 
  •   100ml crème de cassis 
  •   Salt 
  •   Pepper 
  •   Garlic powder 
  •   Oil 
  •   Butter 
  •   Potato starch 
  •   Flour 
  •   20g dark chocolate

Werner brushes some uncooked meatloaf onto the deboned rib or knuckle, then rolls it up and ties the entire thing up in meat netting. At this stage, it’s important to season the roast all over with salt, pepper and a game spice mix. 

While the oven is heating to 120°C (around 250°F), sear all sides of the rolled meat in a hot roasting pan and then set aside briefly. Then add the washed vegetables, cut into chunky cubes, into the roasting pan and brown them with a little oil and tomato paste. This creates the wonderful roasting notes that give the finished roast its full-bodied flavor. The next step is to deglaze the pan with game stock and wine. A fine Barolo is always a good choice, but a smooth Burgundy also works just as well. Add the cassis, thyme and juniper berries to the roasting pan along with the meat, put the lid on and roast in the oven for 3½ hours, turning the meat several times.

Werner knows the roast is done “when the fork slips easily into the meat”. Once it reaches this stage, keep the meat warm in the oven at around 90°C (195°F).

To make the sauce, pass the juices through a sieve and heat it in a pan on the hob. Stir in a little starch and, when it thickens a little, this is when Werner’s ingenious secret tip comes in: fine, bitter dark chocolate. All you need is a couple of squares of dark chocolate, snapped off from the bar. “70% cocoa,” says the bearded 6ft 7in titan as he contentedly stirs both squares into the sauce – and slips a third square into his mouth. “It gives the sauce a round, full-bodied flavor that you’ll only appreciate once you try it,” he adds, closing his eyes as the dark chocolate coats his tongue. Werner also uses dark chocolate to add a special something to bolognese sauce and chili con carne. Crumbling the dark chocolate into the sauce and seasoning with a little salt and pepper “gives the sauce a final kick!”

A good three hours later, it’s noon. The church clock strikes twelve and Werner’s hand excitedly opens the oven door. An incomparable aroma flows through the kitchen as Werner’s blade delicately cuts through the netting around the roast. He cuts the meat into finger-width slices, serving them on a plate along with dumplings, sauce and red cabbage – and this simple (and affordable) cut of venison is transformed into a magnificent holiday roast. A final splash of cassis over the red cabbage further elevates the whole dish.

If you want to know which sides Werner recommends with grilled meat, click here.

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