Venison casserole

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Ingredients

Serves 4-5

  • 600g venison leg, cubed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 slice celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 3 rashes smokey bacon, cut into cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • Good grind of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon rapeseed oil
  • 3 juniper berries, crushed (optional)
  • 100ml red cooking wine
  • 400ml beef stock

Timings

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Venison casserole

This is a delicious winter stew. Venison gives a beautiful depth to a meal… it is a leaner cut of meat so you need the bacon to balance out the fat and make it tender. I like to use the bottom half of a haunch (essentially the shank) but any stewing meat will do. You can get venison in the winter from most butchers.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas 4.

Place the flour in a bowl with 2 pinches of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Toss in the venison and leave to one side.

Heat 1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a casserole dish and add the onions, carrots and celeriac. Cook for 5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the bacon and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Heat the other tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a large frying pan. When the oil is hot, place in the floured venison. You may need to do this in batches. You want a single layer over the bottom of the pan otherwise it will stew rather than brown. Brown the meat on both sides and add to the vegetables in the casserole dish.

Once you have browned all of the venison and placed it in the casserole dish, heat the frying pan over a high heat and add the wine and juniper berries. Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon and let the wine bubble for 3 minutes until the alcohol has burnt off. Add the wine and berries to the casserole. Pour in the beef stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil.

Place a lid on the casserole and place in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

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I don’t usually add flour to the base of stews as I think it can make them gloopy. Here, however, the joy is the rich, gloopy sauce alongside the succulent meat. Delicious!”

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