A Winter Classic for a family supper or entertaining
I love this casserole on a chilly winter’s evening. It has a hearty feel to it and fills the kitchen with delicious country cooking smells thanks to the herbs and amply red wine! It can be made in advance which is perfect when you know you are going to be busy around dinner time or for entertaining when you want to heat a meal that tastes and looks amazing without the stress of having just that minute made it!
You might need a good butcher to find venison. Ideally you want casserole joints like haunch, though if you are feeling extravagant the steaks will work beautifully and need a little less cooking time. Ask for it chopped into chunks if you can as I find the boning the hardest and longest part of the preparation. It is an incredibly lean meat with very little fat yet a rich red meat flavour that works with red wine like apple pie with custard! All quantities are very forgiving so don’t be afraid to add your own twist to my recommendations.
Venison cut into large cube size pieces, I never remember to weigh things to write them down but I am guessing I work on about 2 to 2.5 lbs. This Fed 11 of us easily for dinner with a couple of portions over.
2 packs of good back bacon
Garlic cloves crushed or chopped
3 large onions
Pack of mushrooms any variety will do
Cup of dried prunes with stones removed
2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 to 5 tablespoons of plain white flour
few sprigs of sage and rosemary. I have these in the garden, but supermarkets have fresh herbs or even dried herbs will do.
About half a bottle of red wine
4 beef oxo cubes
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Brown the meat with the finely chopped herbs and a tablespoon of olive oil, it really does just need a dash
While the meat is browning, fry the bacon and garlic till golden and sticking to the base.
Move the bacon to one side of the pan, add a spoonful of olive oil and fry the onions and mushrooms, gradually working in the bacon and sticky bits from the base of the pan till the onion and mushroom just begin to soften and colour. Remove from the heat.
Place the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce pepper and crushed oxo cubes to a 1 pint measuring jug. Fill to the top with red wine.
When the meat is sealed turn the heat right down so as not to burn on the base of the pan. Sprinkle in the flour and stir gently on a low heat for 1 minute to coat each piece evenly.
Add the wine mix then the bacon mix and combine. Top up with red wine if it looks too thick.
Place in a preheated oven at 170 for 1 hour.
Remove and stir in the prunes and redcurrant jelly. Top up with red wine if thickening too fast.
Return to the oven and reduce the heat to 150 for a further hour.
We enjoyed ours with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables and green vegetables for a family supper with friends.
When I make this recipe for my freezer meals for our guests I add carrots to the casserole and top with a layer of saute potato which then crisps up beautifully on defrosting and reheating whilst preventing the casserole drying out. It is a perfect dish to make in advance or freeze as the more cooking and resting you allow, the more the taste develops.
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