We would like to share a recipe with you every month using our seasonal produce.
This month we are lucky to share with you a recipe by Allegra McEvedy who has just launched her new book 'Bought, Borrowed & Stolen: Recipes & knives from a Travelling Chef' which comes out on 3rd October 2011. Allegra is a founder of Leon and this is her second published cookbook. Click here for more details and to buy the book
Venison and Prune Casserole with Chestnut Mash
Becoming a prune is the greatest thing that could ever happen to a plum, and their addition to a slow-cook like this is massive; flavour, texture and richness.
Venison is a very lean meat â€“ good for the heart but a little low on flavour (fat is flavour, after all) so Iâ€™ve put in some bacon for the animal fat lovers amongst us.
As with all stews, best made a day ahead.
For the Venison
- 300ml red wine
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 tbsp of thyme leaves
- 1.5kg haunch of venison (or braising steaks to the same weight) diced into 5cm chunks
- 150g butter
- 2 large onions, medium diced
- 200g smoked streaky bacon, sliced or diced 2cm thick
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, picked and roughly chopped
- 60g plain flour
- 2 large carrots, sliced into 2cm thick rounds
- 250g prunes, roughly chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 300ml red wine
- 1 litre beef stock
- 3 bay leaves
For the Mash
- 1.8kg mashing potatoes, something like King Edwards or similar, peeled and quartered
- 250g chestnuts (the cooked ones in a vac pack), roughly chopped
- 200ml milk
Big bunch of watercress
- Marinade the venison overnight in the wine, onion and thyme.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 150ËšC/300ËšF.
- In a heavy based pan (something like a Le Creuset is perfect) heat a third of the butter and gently fry the onions, bacon and rosemary in it for about 10 minutes until they are just beginning to brown.
- Tip the meat into a colander over a bowl in the sink, saving the marinade, and season well. Take the marinade away and scatter the flour on the meat, tossing lightly and letting the excess fall away.
- Lift the oniony-bacon mix out and set aside, leaving the bacon fat and flavour in the pan, and keeping the pan on the heat add the meat and fry gently on a medium heat, stirring regularly so that the flour doesnâ€™t burn on the bottom (but itâ€™s bound to stick a bit).
- Throw in the carrots, prunes and garlic and fry them until you can smell the garlic, then tip the onions and bacon back in and then pour in the red wine and the leftover marinade.
- Let the whole lot come to the boil, then pour the stock over to cover the meat so that it comes to about 3cm above it: it needs to be submerged. Season with S & P, add the bay leaves then cook in the oven for around 2 Â½ hours - the meat is done when it is very tender, but not falling apart ie still holding its shape.
- About 45mins before serving put on the mash: big saucepan, cold water, spuds and salt. Once the spuds are soft, drain and mash. Melt the last of the butter in the milk, and warm the chopped chestnut pieces in it before stirring in the mash. Season well.
- When the stew is cooked let it sit out of the oven with the lid still on for at least 15 minutes - it needs a bit of quiet time to sort itself out. Then skim off any excess fat that may be sitting on the surface, and taste for seasoning.
- Serve in shallow bowls with the mash, a handful of watercress and a little sweetness in the form of cranberry jelly.