Walking across the Meadows on my to work one morning last week I realised why the house had been particularly cold that morning. There was a layer of crisp, sparkling frost covering the grass and a shroud of mist (not quite freezing fog, thankfully) wrapping itself around the church spire. It was just as well that I had dinner for that evening sorted as it didn’t get much warmer throughout the day. What was for dinner, you ask? Well, it was leftovers from Sunday’s lunch; it was a venison and pheasant stew.
If this was Twitter there would be some sort of ‘WinningAtLife’ hashtag in there (but it’s not, so I’ll refrain). I love game meats, their flavour is just delicious; if I got to choose my last meal, it would be roast venison.
The seasonally minded of you may have noticed though that we’re not exactly in venison season just yet (or pheasant, for that matter), and you would of course be correct. I need to defrost the freezer quite badly, so I was raking through it a few days before seeing what needed to be used up. Who knew there was so much packed in there? But more importantly, how on earth had I forgotten that I had a pack of venison wrapped up at the bottom and another pack with pheasant beside it? Either way, it was clearly passed the stage it should have reasonably been used. With the weather taking a turn for the chillier it made perfect sense to use it so it was out with the casserole dish and time to sacrifice a glass of red wine to the pot.
Venison & Pheasant Stew
Like many people, I don’t use a recipe when making stew – I just through in what I have that will work and bung it in the oven. Thus this recipe is original to The Usual Saucepans, but it’s stew, so if you hunt hard enough you’ll find something similar. It serves approximately four.
250g diced venison
250g diced pheasant
1 tbsp plain flour
1/2 a butternut squash
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 medium onion
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 glass of red wine
2 bay leaves
Potatoes and fine beans to serve
Turn the oven on – making sure your casserole dish will fit in the low to mid oven – to preheat to 150°C. Dice the onion, peal and slice the garlic and make your stock. Also peal and dice your butternut squash before you begin (you could use turnip, if you prefer, to butternut squash; I just thought butternut squash would be more interesting).
Start by putting a large non-stick frying pan on the hob, putting it on a medium heat and adding in 1 tablespoon of the oil; then flour your meat – I cheat by chucking the meat and flour in a sandwich bag and shaking it up, but do it in whatever way suits you – then tip it in to the hot pan and brown the meat off. Once browned, transfer on to a plate. If the pan is dry add in the rest of the oil (if not, don’t bother) then soften – don’t brown – the onions, start cooking the garlic and butternut squash.
Once the onions start to soften add the glass of wine in. Let it simmer for a minute or two to burn off the alcohol and reduce it a little (about a third should evaporate) before adding in the meat, rosemary and bay leaves. Simmer for another minute, then add in some stock to bring the temperature down and transfer in to the casserole dish. Add the remaining stock and put in the oven (150°C) for an hour.
After an hour take it out and give it a good stir. Once you have done this put back in for a further hour to hour and a half. When it is cooked let it rest in the oven whilst it cools.
When you are ready to serve, cook up the potatoes and the beans and serve the stew piping hot (preferably removing the rosemary twigs and bay leaves). It goes pretty well with a glass (or two) of hearty red wine and a lazy Sunday afternoon in. Heaven.