Thursday, 21 June 2012

Recipe LXI - English Peppered Venison Stew

Midsummer is the festival of virility and fertility, when we men are supposed to show off our hunting skills and prove our eligibility. So I hunted down a stag. Well no, I pulled a pack of venison meat out of the freezer at the supermarket, and spent yesterday evening making this, a midsummer-themed, truly English dish, which smells glorious in the oven and tastes sumptuously divine. It is therefore a paradox, that at midsummer, I am making a stew from it, but such has been the adversity of the weather, that putting it on the barbecue would seem reckless, especially as I am typing this in the middle of yet another shower of rain as a clap of thunder echoes outside in the valley.

500g-800g diced venison
5 to 10 shallots, whole
5 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, finely diced
5 potatoes, sliced or quartered
Other root vegetables are acceptable, like parsnips, turnips or celeriac
Most of a bottle of red wine
1 cup of red wine vinegar
5 cloves of garlic
1 small can of tomato purée
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 cloves
3 bay leaves
15 peppercorns, crushed
3 tbsp cinnamon
4 tbsp plain flour

Take the plain flour and mix with some crushed peppercorns and some salt. TIP: use a plastic bag for this, tossing the contents to make everything stick well. Heat the oven to 180°C.
Put some butter and oil into your casserole dish and fry the meat until all sides are browned and sealed. Remove the meat to a side plate for a while, keeping the oil going (add more if necessary), and put the shallots in it to brown. Once they have softened (4-5 minutes), add the onions and garlic. Then put the tomato purée in, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the red wine vinegar and wine itself. Allow it to boil before you add the redcurrant jelly, thyme, the rest of the pepper and the bay leaves, and reintroduce the meat. You should make sure that the liquid covers all the ingredients. If not, add some beef stock or more wine, depending on your taste.

Put it in the oven for up to 3 hours, but check after one and a half, as the heat may cause the liquid to dry up. Serve with cauliflower cheese or green beans.

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