Slow cooked Dorset venison with prunes and pecans
November in the countryside and we can look forward to roaring log fires, rosy cheeks and frosty mornings. The perfect time for a delicious casserole and the AGA with its gentle radiant heat is perfect for this method of slow-cooking.
Don’t let the prunes dissuade you from this flavoursome recipe. After all they are plums picked at their very best and simply dried. They add a sticky, sweetness and depth of flavour that turns this family meal into a dinner party treat.
Serves six people
900g Venison Haunch (off the bone and cut into dice, fat & sinew removed)
50g plain flour
225g shallots peeled and trimmed
4 cm fresh ginger peeled and grated
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 cinnamon stick
Generous grinding of black pepper
Half of a whole nutmeg grated
1 tsp coriander seeds ground in a pestle and mortar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Half a bottle of good red wine
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
450ml homemade venison or beef stock
110g pecans – toasted in a little oil in a hot pan, when you are ready to serve
24 mi-cuit plums or stoned dried prunes soaked in port overnight
Casserole with tight fitting lid
For conventional cookers preheat the oven 130 C or Mark 2
On the boiling plate or hob heat a heavy-based pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and knob of butter, once butter is foaming add shallots. Cook gently but do not brown.
Transfer pan to simmering plate or reduce heat, add crushed garlic and grated ginger. Continue to cook for a few minutes, then put everything into casserole.
Return pan to boiling plate or increase heat on your hob, add a little more oil. Sprinkle dry spices over venison and sear in small batches, using extra oil if necessary. Add to shallots with cinnamon stick.
When all meat is seared keep pan on boiling plate or over a high heat, quickly add red wine to reduce by half, whilst you dislodge caramelised residue from bottom of pan using a wooden spoon. Add stock, bring to boil then transfer to simmering plate or reduce heat. Add a second pan to simmering plate, or over low heat to melt remaining butter, then add flour and combine to make a roux. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring continuously. Remove from heat.
Add third of hot stock to roux, stirring vigorously to avoid creating lumps, add next third and continue stirring. Repeat with remaining stock then replace pan back on simmering plate or low heat, stir continuously until sauce thickens.
Strain if necessary. Add soya sauce. Season to taste. Pour sauce over venison into casserole. Cover and place in baking oven of 4-oven AGA. Or start cooking in roasting oven for 30-40 minutes then transfer to slow cook overnight in simmering oven.
For conventional cookers place in preheated oven. Cook for 2-3 hours or until meat is tender. Skim off any fat.
Check seasoning, add prunes. Transfer to hot oven for ten minutes. Serve with toasted pecans, creamy mash and braised red cabbage.
Slow cooks, braises and stews are ideal to prepare ahead of time, allow to cool then refrigerate for up to two days. Reheat thoroughly and ensure piping hot before serving.