Thursday, 1 November 2012

Venison Casserole and Chilli

I was hunting for game on Sunday, not with a gun on a fell or anything, just with my car and some money and a couple of farm shops. I really wanted birds, but they didn't have any so venison was the next best thing.

I bought a pack of diced venison for about six quid, which seemed fair given that it was labelled as wild and organic. Having thought about it that seems a little strange though. How can meat from a wild animal be labelled organic? The wily old deer could have been slurping from a pesticide infested stream and feasting on Goblin meat puddings for all the butcher knows.

However worthy its origins it wasn't the finest bit of Bambi I've ever eaten, but it did provide a very solid base for a stew, perfect with a big pile of creamy mash. Even better were the leftovers jazzed up into a chilli con carne, something livelier to clear my aching head.

Serves 4 (2 for stew and 2 for chilli, or just stew if you like)

What you'll need for the casserole

1lb (450-500g) venison
1 large onion
1 leek
1 large carrot
2 handfuls of mushrooms
small bunch of thyme
1 scant teaspoon juniper berries
2 bay leaves
2 dessertspoons plain flour
1 stock cube
1 pint water
1 glass red wine
1 dessertspoon mushroom ketchup (optional)
2 cloves garlic
butter and oil

What to do

1. Coat the venison pieces with the flour and season generously with salt and pepper. Brown them in a good splash of oil in a heavy bottomed pan for a few minutes.

2. While the venison is browning slice the onion, crush the juniper berries (in a pestle and mortar or just with the back of a knife) and finely chop or crush the garlic.

3. When the venison is nicely browned remove it from the pan and set aside. Keep the pan on a low heat and throw in the onions. Add a small knob of butter to stop them sticking to the floury bits from the meat.

4. While the onions are sweating chop the carrot, leek and mushrooms into large-ish chunks. Let the onions soften for around 10 minutes then stir in the garlic and juniper berries. Fry for another minute or two then put the venison back in the pan.

5. Crumble in the stock cube (I used beef but Marigold vegetable bouillon would be just as good) then pour in the glass of wine and the water (and the mushroom ketchup if you have any). Throw in the carrot, leek and mushrooms then bring to the boil.

6. Tuck in the thyme (about 7 or 8 sprigs should do it) and the bay leaves then simmer for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol and thicken it slightly.

7. Either turn the heat down and simmer very gently for a couple of hours, or transfer the whole lot to a slow cooker. I cooked mine in the slow cooker on the high setting for about four hours.

8. When it's ready remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then chuck in a knob of butter to add a bit of gloss to the sauce. Serve with a big mound of fluffy mash.

What you'll need to turn the leftovers into a chilli

1 large tomato
a few mushrooms
a small tin of kidney beans
2 tsp chipotle chilli paste
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsps cumin powder
tomato puree (or ketchup)

How to turn the leftovers into a chilli

1. Chop the tomato and mushrooms into small pieces and fry them in oil for a couple of minutes.

2. Throw in all of the spices and fry for another minute, stirring constantly.

3. Throw in the casserole, the kidney beans and a good squirt of tomato puree (or ketchup) and simmer the lot for ten to twenty minutes.

4. Serve with a buttery baked potato.


San said...

Wild venison should be next to free. We're told that deer need culling, and then people get charged to go stalking (and they don't get the carcase), so why aren't we being paid to eat it? :)

Dave said...

San - thanks. Interesting point hadn't thought of it like that. Not sure next to free would be the case given abbatoir/butchery/packaging/transport overheads etc are probably a significant proportion of the cost of meat, but given that no-one has paid to rear the animal it definitely should be cheaper than farmed meat.

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