Braised venison

Don’t be frightened by venison. It’s no different from cooking beef or lamb, isn’t a weird taste and, to satisfy the health-food lobby, is low in fat.

You can buy venison in the same way you can stewing steak – already cut up. Or you could buy a piece of shoulder or shank, or any other cheaper piece, and cut it into 3 or 4cm cubes.

Serves four

1½ kg venison meat – cut into cubes
One bottle of red wine
Two cloves of garlic – peeled and crushed
One bay leaf
A couple of sprigs of thyme
Three or four juniper berries – crushed with the blade of a knife
Two heaped tablespoons of plain flour
Two medium onions – peeled and chopped
Two tablespoons of tomato puree
1½ litres of beef stock
250g carrots – peeled and cut into chunks
One teaspoon of sugar
A handful of chopped parsley
Oil for frying the meat
Butter
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Put the meat into a glass or stainless steel bowl along with the red wine, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and juniper berries. Mix and leave to marinate for at least four hours and overnight if possible, stirring occasionally.

When you’re ready to cook, drain the marinade off the meat but make sure you keep it. Dry the meat on paper towels and sprinkle with half the flour and some salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based frying pan and fry the meat in a little oil until browned on all sides. You might find it easier to do this in batches.

Pre-heat the oven to 150°C (gas mark 2).

In a casserole or large oven-safe saucepan, heat a little oil and butter and fry the onions over a low heat until they’re soft – 10 to 20 minutes. Add the remaining flour and the tomato puree and continue cooking for a few minutes while stirring. Add the marinade, a little at a time, stirring continuously and then bring to the boil. Reduce by half then add the stock and the marinated meat. Bring back to a simmer, cover with a lid, place in the oven and leave to cook for a 1½ to 2 hours – until the meat is tender.

Approximately 45 minutes before the end of cooking, place the carrots in a large saucepan, add a good slice of butter, the sugar and some salt. Just cover the vegetables with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook at a gentle boil without a lid until the carrots are tender; about 30 minutes or so. Most of the liquid will have evaporated but drain off any remaining and then mix with the chopped parsley.

To serve, spoon the venison casserole into warmed serving bowls and spoon the carrots over the top.

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