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Every muscle in the Venison Denver Leg explained

Pasture Fresh® farm-raised Denver Leg is one of the most range's most premium cuts. Versatile and incredibly tender, it is best grilled or cooked on the pan.

Chef Graham Brown explains:

  • The fillets and medallions we can extract from each of the 7 muscles of the Denver leg

  • Cooking tips and uses for each cut.

The Denver leg consists of 4 sub primal muscles from the hind leg of the animal, with silverskin removed, broken down into the individual muscle groups.

1. Knuckle (Inside Round)

The knuckle is broken down into two muscles: the top muscle and the inside eye muscle (also known as the bullet muscle).

  • The best way of dealing with the top muscle is to split it lengthwise down the middle. The two resulting pieces can then be rounded, and their ends squared, to create fillets.

  • The inside eye muscle typically contains some silverskin which runs 2/3 of the way down through the middle of the muscle, which it is best to remove. The eye muscle can be split up to expose that silverskin, which is easily removed with a sharp knife. The two resulting pieces can be rounded up by trimming off the thinner edges, so that they cook nicely and evenly. These can be seared as they are or cut into medallions.

2. Silverside (Bottom Round)

The silverside is broken down into two muscles: the flat and the eye of round.

  • The flat can be cut along the grain into 4 even-sized pieces. The edges of each of these pieces can be trimmed, and their ends squared off, to create fillets. These fillets can either be cut into medallions, little steaks or mignons, or can be seared, roasted, rested and sliced.

  • The eye of round can simply be cut into medallions, or seared, roasted, rested and sliced.

3. Topside (Top Round / Inside)

The topside is broken down into two muscles: the main muscle and the side muscle.

  • The main muscle is ideal for cutting into steaks. Alternatively, it can be cut into leg fillets, by splitting the muscle down the middle along the grain, then rounding the sharp edges off.

  • The side muscle can be trimmed of any thin and ragged pieces to give leg fillet with a nice, even, round shape.

4. Rump, cap off (Top Sirloin)

The rump has a small amount of silverskin which runs down through the middle, which makes it necessary to separate into two pieces. Once the pieces have been separated and the silverskin between them removed, they can be cut into leg fillets, by removing the sharp edges and rounding them with the knife to ensure they cook evenly. These fillets can then be further cut into medallions or little steaks, ready for the pan.

Tips for cooking

The denver leg has now been broken down into leg filets, which can be cut into medallions or small leg noisettes, as well as little steaks. Alternatively, they can be seared, roasted, and sliced as whole filets. The small amount of trim meat constitutes about 12-13% of the cut's weight, while the tiny amount of silverskin is about 2-3% of the leg, which is great return and great yield.

1. Cooking Leg Medallions

The medallions should always be cooked with salt and pepper, using a small amount of oil, and a knob of butter. Once is the pan hot, the medallions can be seared on each side:

  • 1.5 minutes for rare,

  • 2 – 2.5 minutes for medium rare, and

  • about 3 minutes for medium.

The most important thing with venison is to avoid overcooking it. Cooking beyond medium rare or medium begins to change the flavour profile of the meat given it is very rich in iron; when cooked, that iron flavour gives a characteristic liverish flavour, which is best to avoid.

Once the medallions have been seared in the pan, they should be rested for about the same time as they’ve been cooked to allow the temperature and the heat to even out through the meat.

2. Cooking Leg Fillets

The whole leg fillet should be seasoned with salt and pepper, while getting the pan hot with a small amount of butter. Butter and oil are needed when cooking venison given there is no intramuscular fat to render out during the cooking process.

The meat should be seared on all sides and continually turned around on the pan, to ensure it is browned all all over. Once cooked, the fillet should be placed on a rack, allowing the heat to radiate out evenly. Now our Denver Leg filet has been seared, roasted, and rested, and is ready to eat.

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