Sunday, 15 January 2017

Venison and Chestnut Stew

When the weather is chilly outside, I often look to my slow cooker for something delicious, hearty and filling.  Venison may not be the most obvious choice but I bought some wild venison from my local supermarket.  Some people get very squeamish about eating it presumably because deer are prettier than cows?  I don't.  We have several deer parks in the UK and deer are a pest in many areas, especially Scotland.  I also can't see a better life to lead than a completely wild one.



That said, venison is a lean, delicious meat but not a cheap one.  This is why I bought cheap pieces of venison for slow cooking and also had the idea to include chestnuts.  I've included chestnuts once or twice in stews before and if you've not tried it, I urge you to.  They add a textural difference and a delicious, sweet note, they also make 300g of expensive venison into 3 portions.


Just be cautious that if you have a large slow cooker, the volume of the stew in the early cooking stages is quite small so it's one to keep an eye on and add more liquid to if needed.  This really depends on the design and age of your slow cooker, the more modern models seem to be hotter.

Venison and Chestnut Stew - Serves 3, freezes and reheats well

Ingredients

300g, 10-11oz Venison
1 Onion
30g, 1oz Butter
2 Cloves garlic
200ml, 7floz Red wine
200ml, 7floz Beef stock
1 Bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
180g, 6oz Cooked, peeled unsweetened whole chestnuts, you can sometimes find these in cans or pouches
150g, 5oz Chestnut mushrooms (or white mushrooms)
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

Method

Fry the venison in a non stick frying pan in a third of the butter until browned on the outside.  Put into the slow cooker.

Deglaze the frying pan with the red wine and reduce slightly to boil off some of the alcohol.  Pour into the slow cooker.


Dice the onion and fry over a medium heat in a third of the butter until softening and starting to brown.  Add the garlic, fry for another minute or so without colouring the garlic and put into the slow cooker adding the bay leaf and thyme.

Cook on high for an hour or so then reduce to low until cooked through and tender.  This took about 4 hours in total in my slow cooker but in my old model probably would have taken 6.



When the venison is at the point of delicious tenderness, add in the chestnuts and increase the slow cooker heat to high then heat a frying pan on a hob with the remaining butter.  Slice up the mushrooms, fry until browned and add to the slow cooker.  If you would like to thicken the gravy, mix a tsp of cornflour with cold water then mix into the stew (or if the high setting on your slow cooker isn't hot enough, heat on a hob.)

Remove the bay leaf and serve with seasonal vegetables.

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