Our desire for comfort food begins to kick in around Autumn. For me this is a time to start cooking stews and casseroles – meals that are warming after a long walk in the fresh air. The game season is upon us so it is easy to pick up grouse, partridge, pheasant, snipe, rabbit and also venison. Game is extremely lean and surprising good value, so there tends not to be a week that goes by when my family do not eat some form of game over the Autumn/Winter months. I’ll be putting up some more game recipes with a spiced twist over the coming weeks to give you some ideas on how to cook it.
Unlike other game, venison doesn’t actually taste particularly ‘gamey’ and approximates beef. It is however far leaner and has more protein than any other red meat and is packed full of vitamin B’s. So from a health perspective, it’s a great red meat to include in your diet. Now is the time to buy wild venison as they are are in good shape from their summer feeding, however, farmed venison is available year round.
This recipe is a homegrown and has a delicious taste to it resonating from the star anise, nutmeg and pink peppercorns that work so well with the venison, mushrooms and red wine gravy. It’s different for sure but surprisingly works really well, so it has become a household staple recipe for us. Eaten warm,with crusty bread and a glass of red wine by a roaring fire, ok maybe I’m getting carried away but you get the picture, and you too will feel a warm happy glow as it nourishes your body. So try it and let me now what you think. If you have never tried venison before give it a go, you will be very pleasantly surprised by how good and lean it is. Just get those Bambi thoughts out of your head!
Hearty Venison Casserole with Star Anise, Nutmeg and Pink Peppercorns
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 star anise
2 onions, finely chopped
1kg venison, diced
3 carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 turnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1tsp heaped pink peppercorns and a few extra to garnish
175ml red wine (1 small glass)
175ml vegetable stock
200g mushrooms, quartered
crusty loaf, to serve
1. Place the olive oil and butter in a casserole pot. When it is hot add the star anise and after 20 seconds add the onions and lower the heat slightly so they do not burn.
2. When the onions have softened add the venison, carrots, turnips* nutmeg and pink peppercorns and give a good stir. Leave to brown for a few 5 minutes, stirring and turning the meat over at intervals.
3. Add the red wine and vegetable stock and turn the heat up for 10 minutes, before reducing the heat to a simmer for a further 40 minutes or until the carrots have softened and the venison is cooked. In the last ten minutes add the mushrooms and stir into the casserole.
4. Serve warm in bowls with an extra scattering of pink peppercorns, crusty bread on the side and a glass of red wine.
-The reason for adding 1 tbsp of butter is to help keep the venison moist. As it is such a lean meat without a little help from fat it will dry out!
*I have added turnip since I have made this version and I find it works really well.
-You can also add potatoes to the pot if you want to avoid crusty bread.
-Best to avoid eating the thistle!