Venison Casserole

venison casseroleIngredients (for 4)

900g stewing venison cut into 3-4cm pieces
S&P
2 tablesp. olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or crushed
3-4 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves; 1/2 tablesp. juniper berries, crushed
1 tablesp. plain flour
Juice of 1 orange, grated zest of 1/2 orange
250ml port
150ml beef stock
100g chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on size) or oyster mushrooms, torn, or mixture of two
200g cooked and peeled chestnuts

  1.  Preheat the oven to 160 deg.C (Fan 150 deg.C) or Gas Mk 3.  Season the venison with black pepper.  Heat the oil in a deep, flameproof casserole dish that has a lid and brown the venison for 3-4 mins in batches.  Add a little more oil after the first couple of batches if you need to.  Once the meat is browned, set aside.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and soften on a gentle heat for 5 – 10 mins, scraping any bits that may have got stuck to the bottom on the pan.  (These bits really do add flavour to stews, so you want to scrape them off rather than give them the opportunity to burn on the base of the pan.)  If the pan feels a little dry, add a drizzle more oil and a splash of water.
  3. Once the onions have softened, add the carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and crushed juniper berries.  Continue to cook gently for a further 10 mins.
  4. Add the flour, stirring to combine.  After a couple of minutes, add the orange juice and zest, port, stock, mushrooms and some salt and pepper.  Now return the browned venison along with any juices that may have collected in the pan.  Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and pop in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Stir in the chestnuts and return the dish to the oven.  Depending on the venison, the stew will need a further 30 mins – 1 hr to cook through and it is ready when the venison has completely tenderised.
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