Venison Casserole

Venison casserole is a great autumn classic. As with all these things, you can put in whatever root vegetables you have to hand. Just be careful with longer cooking times.
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil, or dripping/lard (I use lard)
  • 250g home-cured bacon belly, or bought pancetta, cut into 1cm lardons
  • 1.5kg venison neck and shoulder meat, stewing cuts, cut into large chunks
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • A few whole small shallots are nice if you have them
  • 2–3 large carrots, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 2 Celery stalks, sliced finely
  • 1 Swede (Turnip or Neeps to us Scots) diced into 2.5cm chunks
  • 200g Chestnut mushrooms sliced or cut into chunks
  • 6–10 juniper berries, bashed slightly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A large sprig of thyme, some rosemary would also be OK
  • About 500ml beef, venison, chicken or game stock
  • 350ml red wine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C fan
  2. In a large casserole soften the onion, celery, shallots and pancetta
  3. After a few minutes add the carrots, mushrooms and saute on a lowish heat till the liquid from the mushrooms is gone
  4. If you like a thicker sauce then you can add a dessert spoon or table spoon of flour to the pan while is just has the fat, to make a thickening roux. If you do this watch it doesn’t catch and burn while you brown the meat.
  5. Meanwhile brown the venison in a hot pan in small batches and add to the casserole as they are browned
  6. Deglaze the browning pan with some of the red wine
  7. Add the red wine to the casserole and turn the heat up to reduce the liquid by half
  8. Add the juniper berries, bay leaves, and herbs as a bouquet garni
  9. Add enough stock to just cover the ingredients, add a little water if you need it.
  10. Add some salt and a decent twist of pepper, you can finalise the seasoning after cooking
  11. Put in the oven for about 3 hours, longer if it needs it.
  12. After the first hour put in the swede. (If you put it in at the start it can almost dissolve.)
Fabulous with red cabbage and mash.

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