Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Heart Warming Venison Stew

Is there anything better than a plateful of steaming rich stew, buttery mash and crunchy green beans. No there is nothing. In the last six weeks I have made this stew 3 times, it makes me so happy that I can't stop making it! 

Growing up in rural Scotland I have always been surrounded by Game, be it Venison, Grouse or Pheasant. As a child I hated it, forced by my Grandmother to eat it, under the pretence of it being beef or chicken. But now as a grown up and with more choice in what I eat, I can't get enough of the stuff. 

Currently in my freezer I have a brace of Grouse from a shoot in August and some stewing venison, ready to pull out at any moment. 

Game should be celebrated, shown off on what beautiful foods Britain has to offer. It is slowly being introduced in to supermarkets and in traditional butchers you can find it. On the 12th August, the Glorious 12th, I noticed an influx of chefs plugging on Twitter, the freshly shot grouse that they had just had delivered into their restaurants. It has become socially expectable to eat and enjoy game, a great and exciting alternative to other more freely available meat's.

If you were to buy venison from a supermarket it will most likely be farmed, but there is one massive plus to this over most of the beef on the shelves. It would have lived outside, free range, the good life.  If you went to a butcher or a game specialist it will most likely be wild, even better. Just think of the life that Stag would have had. Roaming the mountains, eating the most incredible organic fresh wild plants available, all from mother nature. 

With this in mind, just think of how good for you venison is. It is high in protein, extremely rich in iron and incredibly lean. Its full of B vitamins which help regulate your metabolism, and thanks to all the wild food they eat the small amount of fat contains high levels of conjugated linoleum acid, which lowers the risk of strokes and heart attacks. It's a heart healthy superfood. 

Continuing on from the semi detox/ healthy eating thing I started, this stew would be perfect. Stuffed full of veg and cooked in a slow cooker it's the dream winter supper. It takes 10 mins to prep, can be left over night and then heated up the next evening for a quick and easy supper straight from work. I normally have it with some mash and some green beans, but if you want to be extra good have it with just vegetables or make a cauliflower mash.  I just ya know need that gravy mopper that is mash.

I make this in my slow cooker (from Tesco for the bobby bargain price of £12), the hardest part is browning the meat. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can easily make it in a casserole dish and leave in an oven on a low heat (140c) for about 3 hours. 

To make this stew for 5/6 people you will need:

1kg of stewing venison meat
50g flour (or enough to lightly cover your meat)
handful chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced.
1 onion cut in to wedges
2 carrots, peeled and roughly sliced
2 sticks of celery, roughly sliced
1 small swede or turnip chopped (I used a sweet potato once when I didn't have a swede to hand- tasted fab)
60g pancetta cubes
2 tbsp red currant jelly
400ml red wine
beef stock cube
bunch thyme, rosemary and 2 bay leaves.

10 Rooster potatoes- my most favourite potato, it is perfect for mash, baked, chipped, roasted, dauphed.... anything your little potato heart desires. You can get them from most supermarkets
good chunk butter
salt/ pepper to taste 
splash of milk

Green veg.


Turn the slow cooker to low -if over night (high if you want it within 6 hours) and then get a heavy based frying pan and put on a medium to high heat. 

Toss your meat in flour and then in batches brown off your meat and add to the slow cooker. If you put too much meat in the pan at once it will start to stew and toughen. Which we don't want, we want tender, melt in your mouth. 

Add your prepped veg, herbs and pancetta then cover in the wine, stock, redcurrant jelly, season and pop the lid on. 

If like me, you like your flavours to maximise, I leave it over night and then switch it off before I head to work. Leaving it too cool, marries the ingredients together giving you a rich deep flavoursome melt in the mouth stew. 

When you get back from work, whack it to warm for about 30-40 mins (about how long it will take you to do the potatoes).

To make the mash, peel your potatoes, chop in to smallish pieces and boil for about 25 mins in salted water. Once soft, drain and put back in sauce pan. Add a good hunk of butter and crush those babies. After about a minute of mashing you should get soft, fluffy, smooth mash, I like to add a splash of milk to make it creamier and lots of pepper. 

Prep and cook your veg and dish up.

Enjoy with a large glass of yummy red wine.. go on you deserve it! 

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