Wine in my Venison….
For the marinade
dry white wine 1 bottle
olive oil 2 tbsp
bay leaves 2
onion 1 large
celery 2 sticks
garlic 2 cloves, squashed with flat of knife
juniper berries 10, crushed slightly
black peppercorns 10, crushed slightly
For the rest of the stew
venison 1½kg , cut into chunks about 3cm x 6cm
dried porcini 20g
unsalted butter 100g, or goose or duck fat
olive oil a drop
sugar 1 tbsp
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
ground cloves 1½ tsp
nutmeg ½, grated
sage 3 leaves
flour 3 tbsp
beef or game stock 300ml
mushrooms 300g, preferably brown cap or chestnut mushrooms
Put the venison into a bowl and cover with the marinade ingredients. Give a good stir and cover with clingfilm and leave overnight somewhere cool. If the weather’s warm or you just want to stow this away for a few days, then put it to marinate in the fridge, but make sure you take it out and get it back to room temperature before you want to cook it.
When you do, preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2 and, at the same time, cover the porcini with hot water. Then put 75g of the butter and a drop of oil in a large casserole and when it’s melted add the onions, very finely sliced (I use the processor), and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Strain the dried porcini, reserving the water, and then chop them very small. Add these to the onion and give a good stir. Cook gently for another minute or so, stir again, then sprinkle with the sugar. Turn up the heat and caramelise slightly and then add the spices and sage. Tear a piece of kitchen foil about the same measurements as the casserole and place it just above the onions. Turn the heat to low – you may need to use a heat diffuser – and cook for 30-40 minutes, lifting up the foil every now and again to give a gentle prod and stir. You want a brown, sweet mess under there.
Pour the venison into a colander or sieve placed over a pan. Then pick out the marinade ingredients or meat (whichever is easier). Remove half the cooked onion mixture and cover the half still in the pan with the venison. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the flour, and cover with the rest of the onions. Heat up the marinade liquid in its pan, add the stock and reserved, strained mushroom-soaking liquid, and pour over the venison. If the meat isn’t covered you can add some more wine (though heat it up first) or stock (ditto). Put in the preheated oven, and cook for about 2½ hours or until very tender indeed.
You can now let this cool and keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. Forty minutes at 180C/gas mark 4, or on the hob, should be enough to reheat it, but do remember it should be brought back to room temperature first. About 15 minutes before the stew is hot again, wipe the mushrooms, cut them into quarters, melt the remaining 25g butter in a small frying pan and cook the mushrooms in it, sprinkling with salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes, add them to the stew in the oven. Leave it there to cook for another 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the stew with parsley when you serve it. I always have this with mashed potato and I like sliced green beans with it, too.
I don’t necessarily scale down the quantities if I’m cooking for fewer people since the oniony juices, with or without the leftover meat, make the most fabulous pasta sauce the next day.