Recipe: ‘Harty’ Venison Casserole
While writing last week’s post about what’s coming into season in November, it occurred to me that I had never actually cooked with venison before and that it’s possibly rather hypocritical of me to be suggesting that others do what I haven’t!
So this weekend, I gave it a go. After a week of various family maladies, we were all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves so something warm and comforting was needed.
A Recipe For Success
It’s one thing chucking a recipe together when you’re dealing with ingredients that are familiar favourites but I found it quite daunting putting a recipe together for venison, which I have only tasted a couple of times before and have certainly never cooked with. As so often in life these days, my first port of call was the internet! I browsed all the venison casserole and stew recipes I could find, jotting down those ingredients which seemed sensible to include – those that are a must in any stew, such as onion and those which seemed to appear regularly in the venison recipes, such as juniper. Gin is made from juniper berries, and if you’ve never cooked with them before then take a whiff when you open the jar. It really smells just like your evening G&T!
Ha! That got your attention didn’t it? No, I didn’t decide to spice things up by cooking in the nude. I DID however, turn to one of the forums on Naked Wines (a fab wine club by the way) to ask for advice on what wine would work well with venison in the sauce. The general consensus was Australian Shiraz.
Interesting side note – when you ask foodies about what wine to use in recipes, the advice is always to use the best wine you can – if it’s not good enough to drink, then it’s not good enough to use in your recipe! However, with the ‘winos’ on Naked Wines, the feeling was much more that you should just pick up a cheap bottle at the supermarket and save the good stuff for drinking! 🙂
We tucked into this along with some buttery mash and slightly mineral kale and I must say, it was rich, warm cosiness in a bowl and made Sunday evening seem a little bit less bleak!
‘Harty’ Venison Casserole
You will need:
1 tbs olive oil
150 g smoked bacon lardons
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 k diced venison
1 tbs juniper berries, crushed
2 tbs plain flour
1 tsp dried thyme
400 ml red wine
(I used Australian Shiraz, as suggested by my Naked Wines chums)
400 ml beef stock
Zest of an orange
2 tbs honey
2 tbs blackberry jelly
(or any other similar jam or jelly – redcurrant would work well. I actually used some damson jam because it was all I had in the cupboard!)
- Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the bacon lardons and fry for about 5 minutes, until starting to brown
- Add the onion and carrot and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened
- Put the venison in a large freezer bag (or a bowl if you don’t have a bag) and add the flour and crushed juniper berries. Mix thoroughly so the meat is completely coated.
- Add the whole lot to the pan and stir occasionally for 5 minutes until the meat has browned
- Add the wine and allow to simmer for a minute before adding the stock, orange zest, honey and blackberry jelly
- Stir and bring to a gentle simmer, then turn the heat down to low and put the lid on
- Cook for 3 hours, until the meat comes apart with a fork
I can’t bring myself to have this with anything other than mash for ultimate comfort but crusty bread is a close second. If you’re feeling the need to be healthy then rice is fine at a push!
Feel free to substitute the venison with beef – and I think it would be great with steak and kidney too as the kidney and venison have quite a similar taste.