I first ate venison when I was 10 years old. I remember this moment distinctly as I had been invited by Anton Mosimann to his private dining rooms on West Halkin Street to be involved in the launch of Mosimann’s Christmas Pudding, and it was here that I first enjoyed it.
Mr Mosimann was one of the judges at a cooking competition I had taken part in earlier in the year, Sainsbury’s Future Cooks, so of course I was thrilled to go.
Myself and two others finalists from the competition donned our whites for a morning in the kitchens and then a photoshoot with Mr Mosimann and the Christmas puddings. The highlight of the day for me was the delicious lunch that followed with the journalists. Being painfully shy for most of my childhood, and therefore not overly keen to have to speak to a room full of people I didn’t know, I focused my full attention on the meal ahead. As anyone who knows me will well believe this was not a hardship. I don’t think I had ever heard of venison before that day, and I had certainly never tasted it. The day was a real education for me.
Yesterday we hit Chadwicks on Balham high road, where the butcher told us the venison was so tender it was cutting like butter! Being so rich in iron, low in fat and utterly delicious, a little goes a long way, so it is ideal for a low and slow casserole that you can just leave in the oven for a couple of hours to cook itself.
Low and Slow Venison Casserole
Takes about 45 minutes of prep and then 2 hours in the oven, finished with 15 mins on the hob. The quantity below gives 2 adult portions, 1 toddler portion + 4 for the freezer which makes it more cost effective that you might think.
Ingredients and suggested quantities
500gr venison haunch, cubed
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter and olive oil
2 x tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 x onion, diced
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
1 x leek, halved, washed and sliced
2 x carrots, peeled, halved and roughly chopped
4 x celery sticks, diced
5 x Portobello mushrooms, slices 1 cm thick
1 x bay leaf
1 tbsp thyme leaves removed from stems
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato puree
¾ pt chicken stock
1 glass of red wine (replace with more stock if you would prefer)
Large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
- Pre-heat oven to 120c
- Heat a knob of butter and a couple of tbsp of olive oil in a pan until the butter is bubbling and then carefully place the venison a piece at a time into the butter to seal. After a couple of minutes turn the venison pieces over to brown the other side. It is better to brown the meat in small batches rather than trying to do it all at one time. You end up boiling the meat rather than sealing in all the flavour
- Transfer the browned venison into a heavy casserole dish and then deglaze the frying pan with the balsamic vinegar. Pour the juices over the venison
- Back in the frying pan, soften the onion with 1 of the garlic cloves in a little olive oil until translucent and then tip into the casserole
- Soften the remaining leeks, celery and carrot in the frying pan and add to the casserole
- Heat the casserole dish and combine the ingredients with the paprika and flour.
- After a couple of minutes add the bay leaf and tomato puree and stir. Cover with the chicken stock and wine
- Back in the frying pan; cook the mushrooms in some butter with the thyme leaves. Add to the casserole.
- Pop the lid on the casserole and chuck in the oven for 2 hours in total.
- After 2 hours remove from the oven and place on hob at a simmering heat. Add the remaining crushed garlic clove and the chopped flat leaf parsley. Taste for black pepper and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce so that it is rich and ‘spoon-able’.
We served the casserole with nutty brown rice and tenderstem broccoli.
I think it is safe to say that venison was a success with our 19 month old! Never have I seen a meal be demolished so fast and the cries of ‘More, more’ are always a dream to hear!