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
- Pre-heat the oven to 150C fan
- In a large casserole soften the onion, celery, shallots and pancetta
- After a few minutes add the carrots, mushrooms and saute on a lowish heat till the liquid from the mushrooms is gone
- 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.
- Meanwhile brown the venison in a hot pan in small batches and add to the casserole as they are browned
- Deglaze the browning pan with some of the red wine
- Add the red wine to the casserole and turn the heat up to reduce the liquid by half
- Add the juniper berries, bay leaves, and herbs as a bouquet garni
- Add enough stock to just cover the ingredients, add a little water if you need it.
- Add some salt and a decent twist of pepper, you can finalise the seasoning after cooking
- Put in the oven for about 3 hours, longer if it needs it.
- 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.