Thursday, 10 January 2013

Francatelli's Recipe for Roast Haunch of Venison

I have recently been working on the great Victorian chef, Charles Elmé Francatelli's book, the Cook's Guide and Housekeeper's and Butler's Assistant. In celebration of this fact, and that the book has now been published, here is a brief biography of Francatelli and one of his classic Venison recipes.

If this has piqued your interest in the man and in his cookbook, then you can purchase the book via Amazon using the image link at the bottom of this page.

Charles Elmé Francatelli, circa 1860
Charles Elmé Francatelli was born in London in 1835. Of Italian extraction, Francatelli was educated in France, where he learnt the art of cookery from masters such as Carème.

On his return to Britain he worked as a chef in a number of great houses in both England and Scotland, but by 1839 he was the chef at Cockford’s club in London. It is said that he was spotted there by a steward of Queen Victoria’s royal household and in 1841 he was appointed maitre d’hotel and ‘chief cook in ordinary’ to Queen Victoria at Windsor. Though his tenure in the post was only one year, this was undoubtedly the highlight of Francatelli’s career.

He was next appointed as the chef of the Coventry House Club, 106 Piccadilly, in London and this period saw the maturing of his culinary style, where he developed an Anglo-French style of cookery, where he became an interpreter of French cookery and techniques to the English, and provided the country (and by extension the English-speaking world) a new set of polished culinary terms to take the place of the traditional, rather homely, nomenclature of the kitchen. Hence referring to ‘liaisons’, ‘bain-maries’ etc became commonplace.

During his career, Francatelli wrote a number of cookery books, and it is these along with his standing as a chef that earn him the title of the first Celebrity Chef. Despite this, frugality in the kitchen was a watchword of his and he produced a cookbook for the common man to make the most of what was available to them. As such, Francatelli is just as relevant to the cooks of today as he was to cooks of 150 years ago.

From his recipes and his notes, it is apparent that Francatelli much appreciated Scottish produce and he was a fan of game. As a result, I am giving here my interpretation of Francatelli's recipe for a roast haunch of venison, complete with Francatelli's original recipe.

Roast Haunch of Venison Recipe

Original Recipe

Red deer and rolled haunch of venison.
Saw off the shank-bone, remove the sinew, pare away the dark dry skin from the skirt, and also the dried surface of the under part. Then cover the haunch with a large sheet of well-greased paper, and over that place a covering of flour-and-water paste, about half an inch in thickness ; envelop the whole with two large sheets of greased paper securely tied on with string ; place the venison in a cradle-spit, and set it down before the fire, to roast for about four hours, more or less, the exact space of time depending upon the size and weight of the haunch. When about to take it up from the fire, the paste and paper should be removed; sprinkle a little salt over it, and after dredging the surface with flour, baste it with dissolved butter poured through a straining spoon, and froth it by means of the red-hot salamander. Dish up with brown gravy, and serve currant jelly, and French beans, separately.
Note.—The following sauce is appropriate for roast venison, or roast mutton: viz.,—to one pound of currant jelly add a gill of port wine, the thin rind of a lemon, and a small stick of cinnamon bruised ; stir the whole over the fire until dissolved, without boiling strain through a coarse tin strainer, and serve in a sauce-boat.

Modern Redaction:


1 haunch of venison
plain flour
melted butter
flour and water paste

For the Sauce
200g (1 cup) redcurrant jelly
70ml (5 tbsp) port wine
2 tbsp finely-grated lemon zest
1 small cinnamon stick, bruised


Trim the haunch neatly and take off any skirt. Wrap the haunch in a sheet of greased baking parchment then cover with a 1cm thick layer of thick flour and water paste.

Cover with a double layer of baking parchment and tie securely. Sit in a roasting tin and transfer to an oven pre-heated to 220ºC (410ºF). Roast for 30 minutes then reduce the oven temperature and continue roasting for 30 minutes per kg for medium. 

At this point remove from the oven and take off the papers and flour paste covering. Arrange the joint back in the roasting tin, sitting it skin side up. Season with flour then dust the surface with a little flour. Drizzle on some melted butter then return to the oven (increase the temperature to 200ºC (400ºF) and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.

Remove from the oven and cover with foil then set aside to rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Combine the redcurrant jelly, port, lemon zest and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the jelly has dissolved. Pass through a coarse strainer and serve to accompany the meat.

For more of Francatelli's recipes on this blog, see the Recipes from Various Historic Periods page. For more information about Francatelli and for modern redactions of hundreds of his recipes see the Celtnet Charles Elmé Francatelli information page.

UPDATE! The complete text of Francatelli's Cook's Guide has been edited and published!

This recipe and over 1000 other recipes published in Francatelli's 1661 'The Cook's Guide and Housekeeper's and Butler's Assistant' has been published in eBook format. The complete text and all images from Francatelli's book has been re-edited and made available with an introduction and new biography. You also get essential Victorian recipes for basic pastries and store sauces that are needed to re-create Francatelli's recipes but which Francatelli himself did not publish.

In addition over 100 of Francatelli's recipes, including all the Reform Club recipes have been redacted and published as a separate chapter so that a modern cook can copy them. Using these recipes and the additional Victorian recipes provided you can re-create all of Francatelli's dishes from scratch.

So why not re-create a Victorian dinner party, or a Victorian Christmas meal as described by Francatelli himself in his Bills of Fare? Learn why Francatelli is one of the most well respected of the Victorian cookery writers and get a copy of his book for yourself today.

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