Slowly stewed venison shoulder cubes in red wine with apricots, cloves and juniper.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 3/4 hours
1kg shoulder venison, shoulder is the best, cut into 2″ cubes
1 tbsp veg oil or beef dripping
2 large onions, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small cubes
400g belly pork
10 juniper berries, lightly crushed
1 sprig of rosemary
3 bay leaves
2½ tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato puree
254mls half pint dry, full bodied red wine
500mls strong venison or game stock
2 tbsp clear honey
12 semi dried apricots, chopped into quarters
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pre heat the oven to Gas 3, 160°C.
- Season the venison well with salt and pepper and brown well in the vegetable oil or dripping.
- I use a cast iron casserole to brown and cook this dish in, then all the goodness stays in the pan.
- When browned remove the meat from the pan.
- Add the onions and diced carrot and cook until they have a nice brown and caramelized colour to them. When cooked remove them also.
- Sauté the bacon or pork with the cloves, juniper, rosemary and bay together in the pan to release their flavours, but do not let them burn.
- Once browned, add the flour and tomato paste and stir well, it’s quite good to let the flour catch a little, I think it adds flavour and colour to the whole stew.
- Stir in the red wine and the beef stock and bring to the boil, slowly.
- When just simmering add the honey and apricots and season well with salt and pepper.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the pre heated oven, and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. the stew must cook very slowly in the oven or it will dry out and toughen. It’s a very important point.
- Once the venison has been cooking for 1 hour 45 minutes, remove very carefully from the oven and take off the lid. The aroma is fantastic.
- Check the meat is soft and juicy, it will fall apart when gently squeezed when ready, if it is still a little tough then pop back into the oven for a further 20-30 minutes.
- When the stew is finally cooked cover and leave to cool for a good half an hour, covered. If the stew is too hot you really cannot eat or enjoy it.
- The best way to serve this dish is to just pop the whole thing in the middle of the table and let people help themselves.
- Venison is a very rich meat and a little goes a long way, so don’t be surprised if you feed six people from this.
- A large bowl of lightly cooked broccoli tossed in a little unsalted butter and a bowl of mash are all you need with this, and of course, a large glass of Shiraz.
Copyright Phil Vickery