After publishing my updated dietary policy yesterday I headed out to Borough market to do some food shopping. I bought some things, and last night crafted a meal out of them for myself and two friends.
The result… feels like it should be a policy violation. It’s not. It scrupulously obeys all the rules – there’s no cheese, the only meat in it is game (I had a conversation with the person selling it to confirm that it was really wild caught venison and not farmed. Apparently he gets a lot of weird and ranty questions from customers so was pleasantly surprised at my “Is your venison farmed? No? Awesome. I’ll have a kilo please”), and the majority of the vegetables are organic and locally sourced.
I think it mostly feels like a policy violation because of misplaced puritanism. The resulting meal was deliciously decadent.
Here’s the recipe. It’s mostly approximate, as I kept tinkering and adding things throughout. There were 3 of us, and we all ate to satiation and there were plenty of leftovers – easily enough for a meal for two, probably enough for a meal for three with a side.
- 1 kilo diced wild venison
- 1 medium sized celeriac
- 6 large carrots
- 8 new potatoes
- 6 medium white onions
- 250g butter
- 1 bottle red wine (I went up to the nice man in the wine shop and said “Hello. I don’t drink wine but I need a decent dry red for cooking venison. Suggestions?”. He pointed me towards this one)
- About 10 fresh sage leaves
- About 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp grains of paradise (I’m not sure this was enough that you could actually taste them)
- 6 juniper berries
- A fair bit of salt (I have no idea how much. “to taste”)
I’m not kidding about the wine and the butter. There really is a whole bottle of wine and a whole block of butter in this stew.
Roughly quarter and break apart four of the onions. Put them in a roasting pan with half the butter and put it in the oven on 200c. Dice the potatoes, carrots and celeriac into roughly cm cubes (Precision is not important here). Once the onions are starting to soften, add the diced root vegetables to the onions and butter and toss thoroughly.
You’ll need those vegetables roasted reasonably well, so you might want to wait a bit before starting the next bit (don’t wait until they’re roasted before starting, but maybe give them half an hour)
Take the remaining two onions and dice them finely. In a large pot, fry them with the remaining butter and some salt. Once they start to soften, add the paprika, grains of paradise and juniper berries (I cut up the juniper berries first and smashed the grains of paradise in a pestle and mortar).
Once the onions are reasonably well browned, add the venison. Let it brown on the outside, then add about half and half boiling water and red wine until the venison is covered and reduce the heat a bit. Let it cook for another 10 minutes or so, then add all the roasted vegetables and the fresh sage. Top it up with half boiling water and wine again until covered, mix thoroughly and transfer to the oven.
It’s now going to take a while, so start cleaning up. You basically want to leave it cooking until the meat is falling apart – this took about two hours for me. Check on it every 20 minutes or so, if it’s starting to look a bit dry top it up with more wine (I started mostly using wine at this point with the occasional top up of water).
Once it seems ready, turn the oven off and leave it in there for another half hour or so. It’s probably not totally necessary, but the result is just that bit softer and tastier for it.