I don’t use game meat very often but when I do, like when cooking this venison casserole, I am reminded of how much I love it.
This is the type of meat I grew up on, especially moose meat. I adore the somewhat strong taste you get from these animals that roam the forests – a taste that you will not get from deer or moose that are farmed like cattle in fields.
If I’m buying venison from a butcher in Britain, I make sure it’s from wild deer. When I’m visiting family in Sweden I mostly use moose meat. One of my brothers will give me meat from his freezer.
Game meat is very lean meat and while this is good news for the waistline, it’s easy to over-cook and end up with very dry meat.
Unless I’m cooking the fillet of venison or moose – which I prefer to cook whole like fillet of beef – I often freeze the meat first and then cut the meat into thin slices when it’s only slightly thawed. These thin slices of meat need very little cooking and is the last thing I fry and add to this venison casserole.
Start by soaking the dried mushrooms in water – they need at least 45 minutes soaking time.
For 4 people:
500g, 1lb 2oz, venison or moose meat (frozen first and then cut very finely when only slightly thawed, you can do this well in advance)
150g, 3½oz, dried porcini or chanterelle mushrooms, soaked for a minimum of 45 minutes and then rinsed under cold water.
½ tablespoon butter
500ml, 18floz, 2¼ cups, vegetable stock
1 small red onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
1 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil
10 juniper berries, grind the berries in a pestle and mortar
250ml, 9floz, slightly less than 2¼ cups, full-flavoured red wine (always use wine that you are happy to drink as well)
1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ tablespoon redcurrant jelly
Salt and pepper
2 medium sized carrots cut into batons
2 large sweet potatoes cut into thick wedges
12-16 small tomatoes
Broccoli and/or other green vegetables
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/400F/gas mark 6. Toss the carrot batons and sweet potato wedges in a little bit of olive oil. Place them on a baking tray, scatter a bit of salt over the vegetables and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, turning the vegetables half-way through. Add the tomatoes during the last 10 minutes.
2. Melt the butter in a casserole dish. Add the porcini mushrooms and fry gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring every now and then. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the stock has reduced by half.
3. While the mushrooms are simmering, place 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat and add the sliced onion and the ground juniper berries. Fry the onion for 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the red wine, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste and redcurrant jelly, stir and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the onion and red wine mix to the casserole dish with the mushrooms. Stir and check the seasoning. Add a bit of oil (I use rapeseed oil for frying) to a large frying pan over quite a high heat and quickly brown the meat in batches – seasoning each batch with a bit of salt and pepper. Add the browned meat to the casserole dish. Stir, check the seasoning and let it simmer for five minutes.
5. Boil or steam broccoli and/or other green vegetables.
Serve the venison casserole with the roasted vegetables and boiled/steamed green vegetables.