Rich Venison Stew with Apricots & Juniper

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  • Makes: 4
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Ready in: 1 3/4 hours
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Rich Venison Stew with Apricots & Juniper

Ingredients

  • 1kg shoulder venison, shoulder is the best, cut into 2" cubes
  • 1 tbsp veg oil or beef dripping
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 400g belly pork
  • 10 cloves
  • 10 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2½ tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 254mls half pint dry
  • full bodied red wine
  • 500mls strong venison or game stock
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 12 semi dried apricots, chopped into quarters
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Pre heat the oven to Gas 3, 160°C.
  2. Season the venison well with salt and pepper and brown well in the vegetable oil or dripping.
  3. I use a cast iron casserole to brown and cook this dish in, then all the goodness stays in the pan.
  4. When browned remove the meat from the pan.
  5. Add the onions and diced carrot and cook until they have a nice brown and caramelized colour to them. When cooked remove them also.
  6. sauté the bacon or pork with the cloves, juniper, rosemary and bay together in the pan to release their flavours, but do not let them burn.
  7. Once browned, add the flour and tomato paste and stir well, it's quite good to let the flour catch a little, I think it adds flavour and colour to the whole stew.
  8. Stir in the red wine and the beef stock and bring to the boil, slowly.
  9. When just simmering add the honey and apricots and season well with salt and pepper.
  10. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the pre heated oven, and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. the stew must cook very slowly in the oven or it will dry out and toughen. It's a very important point.
  11. Once the venison has been cooking for 1 hour 45 minutes, remove very carefully from the oven and take off the lid. The aroma is fantastic.
  12. Check the meat is soft and juicy, it will fall apart when gently squeezed when ready, if it is still a little tough then pop back into the oven for a further 20-30 minutes.
  13. When the stew is finally cooked cover and leave to cool for a good half an hour, covered. If the stew is too hot you really cannot eat or enjoy it.
  14. The best way to serve this dish is to just pop the whole thing in the middle of the table and let people help themselves.
  15. Venison is a very rich meat and a little goes a long way, so don't be surprised if you feed six people from this.
  16. A large bowl of lightly cooked broccoli tossed in a little unsalted butter and a bowl of mash are all you need with this, and of course, a large glass of Shiraz.

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