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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A Taste of Malt – Supper Club, Saturday, 5th September

The commoTaste of Malt Tablen ingredient throughout all three courses for this Supper Club was a 12 year old Malt Whisky!  Diners were offered a shot of the Malt at the start of the evening, and continued to enjoy the smooth, rich taste of this Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky, produced by Strathisla –  Strathisla 12 Year Old Scotch Malt Whisky 70 cl – Strathisla is the oldest distillery in the Highlands of Scotland.  The three courses, together contained almost two 70cl bottles to serve 9-10 people, making it quite an expensive meal to produce, but well worth it!
The first course was Whisky and Chilli Tiger Prawns, coated with a sweet whisky and chilli glaze, baked in the oven and topped with a little finely slivered lime zest.

The main course consisted of a whole roast fillet of beef, cooked to medium rare, cut into steak medallions, dressed with a whisky, grain mustard and cream sauce and served with crispy potatoes and roasted mushrooms. Recipe here.

Dessert was an all time favourite of mine …. marmalade and whisky bread and butter pudding.  Served with fresh oranges marinated in Whisky and sugar syrup making the dessert sublime!

Marmalade & Whisky Bread & Butter Pudding

Bread-and-Butter-Pudding---recipe Ingredients (Serve approx. 6)

8 slices day-old crusty white bread
50g very soft butter
4 tbsp Seville orange marmalade, plus 4 tsp
300ml full-fat milk
248ml pot double cream
3 large eggs
seeds 1 vanilla pod
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
90 ml whisky

1. Butter each piece of bread on both sides, then spread one side each with the marmalade. Cut into triangles and nestle in rows in a large baking dish. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.

2. Beat the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar and whisky together, then pour over the bread. Leave to soak for at least 30 mins.

3. Dot the remaining marmalade all over the top of the pud and dust with sugar. Bake for 45 mins-1 hr or until puffy and starting to caramelise where the bread breaks out of the custard. Serve hot or warm.

Whisky & Chilli Prawns

whisky_and_chilli_tiger_72921_16x9Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 limes, 1 juice and zest, 1 juice only
90ml/3½fl oz whisky
180g/6½oz soft light brown sugar
24-32 raw tiger prawns, peeled, deveined
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. Heat the lime juice, whisky and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring gently, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has all dissolved, stop stirring, turn up the heat and boil for 5–7 minutes, or until the mixture becomes syrupy and thickens. To tell if it is ready, dip a wooden spoon in the mixture and tap off the excess – some glaze should still stick to the spoon, but it will not be as thick as honey. (Sometimes the whisky catches alight and you will see a blue-orange flame coming from the pan. Just take it off the heat and the whisky will burn itself out. )

3. Stir in the finely grated lime zest, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

4. Put the prawns in a shallow ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the chilli. Brush the prawns with the oil and then with the glaze. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until the prawns turn opaque. Remove from the oven and brush with more glaze, reserving any extra glaze for dipping, and set aside to cool slightly before serving.

Gourmet Beefburgers (Rita’s Recipe)

Ingredients for 6-8 Beefburgers (depending on the thickness of your burgers)

1 kg lean beef mince
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lg onion, chopped finely
2 tsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 red chilli, finely chopped

1.  Lightly sautee the onions and garlic until translucent but not coloured.  Leave to cool.

2. In a large bowl mix together the mince, onions, garlic, tomato ketchup, mustard, egg, and chilli.

3. Dive in with your hands and mix until the ingredients are well blended. Either shape into patties or to get each the same size, push into ring moulds approximately 9 cm in diameter.  I like to make my burgers quite thick as they shrink in cooking, but if you want to extend to 8 then make them a little thinner.

4. Get a griddle pan and heat on a high heat.  Slide a little olive oil on each side of the burgers with your fingertips or a pastry brush and then making sure the pan is really hot, griddle for a minute or two on each side to get a good colour.

5. Finish off in a medium hot oven (200 degrees C or Mk 6) for about 10-15 minutes (depending on thickness).

6. Serve with brioche buns (I got mine from Ocado – much better than Waitrose or Heston’s) and some salads.

A Taste of Fire – Supper Club, Saturday 1st August 2015

Fabulous dining guests lingered around the wrought iron table set for our BBQ meal on Saturday’s “A Taste of Fire” Supper Club event, which was held at a venue in Wraysbury.  This was my sixth meet up since starting the Supper Club and some of my diners were already old friends – regulars who had already attended more than one of the Supper Clubs that have been going now since February of this year.

IMG_1659The menu:

Spicy Rum RibsSticky Chicken Wings  | Gourmet Beefburgers in Brioche Buns

Sides:  Tomato Salsa |  Broad Bean, Pea & Beetroot Salad | Tomato Salad | Green Salad | Mediterranean Potato Salad | Guacamole | Cheese & Pancetta Bread | Sundried Tomato & Basil Bread | Moroccan Zatar Bread

Dessert:  Tropical Fruit Salad in a Rum Sugar Syrup served with Chantilly Cream.

The evening kicked off with a Raspberry Summer Punch, which wasIMG_1654 enthusiastically received by all –  a mix of wine, cranberry juice, raspberries, mint & lemonade over ice.

As I was cooking for 10, I decided it might be prudent to cook or part-cook some of the meat in the oven, to receive a final kiss on the BBQ griddle bars, before being served with an array of sides and home made breads, the most popular of which was the cheese and pancetta bread pictured above.

I was particularly pleased with my home made gourmet burgers, to which I added to the leanest beef mince I could get, some sautéed onions, garlic, chillies, tomato ketchup and Dijon mustard.  These delicious beef patties were sandwiched between soft, sweet brioche buns (the only food that wasn’t home made – unfortunately, I had no time) and I chose to squeeze some guacamole inside of my own, which made it even more unctuous !

There was plenty of food to accommodate second helpings …. and even some left over for a quick, light lunch on Sunday!

BBQ Rum Ribs (Recipe by Jamie Oliver)

This recipe was used for the Supper Club Event – A Taste of Fire, the principal elements of which were pork ribs, chicken wings and home made gourmet burgers.  Jamie Oliver’s recipe was used for the ribs.  As I was cooking for a large number and not sure of Charlie’s BBQ skills, I pre-cooked the ribs in the oven before finishing off on the BBQ.  I had cooked them for 2 hours as per the recipe, but in hindsight would cook for half that time, as they quickly became very well done once they hit the griddle b bars of the BBQ!

Ingredients

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1.5 kg pork ribs, 

For the paste
5 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons chipotle chilli paste
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the rad rum BBQ sauce
4cm piece of ginger, peeled
3–4 cloves of garlic, peeled
125 ml tomato ketchup
60 ml dark rum
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
50 g soft dark brown sugar

Combine the paste ingredients and 2 teaspoons of salt in a bowl. Pat the ribs dry with kitchen paper, then place in a tray and rub all over with the paste. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.

When you want to cook, remove the ribs from the fridge, shake off any excess marinade and allow to come up to room temperature. Meanwhile, set up your barbecue for the half and half technique (so half the base is covered in charcoal and the other side is empty) – you want a medium indirect heat. Place a drip tray inside the barbecue on the indirect side. Cover with the lid and allow to heat up like an outdoor oven – you want a temperature of around 180°C/350°F.

Rip off just over an arm’s length of extra-strong tin foil, stack up the ribs in the centre and tightly wrap. Place the foil parcel over indirect heat on the barbecue, cover with the lid and cook for around 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and starts to fall away from the bone, remembering to replenish with hot coals every 45 minutes or so. Meanwhile, finely grate the ginger and garlic into a small pan on the hob. Add the rest of the BBQ sauce ingredients and 80ml of water. Simmer over a medium heat for around 20 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and set aside.

Remove the ribs from the foil and brush all over with the BBQ sauce and any cooking juices. Return to the indirect heat for another 30 to 40 minutes with the lid on, or until tender and golden, basting well every 10 minutes or so.