Venison: a bit like beef but tastier and better for you!
We visited Wyken Farmer’s market a couple of Saturdays ago and we were just about to leave when we spotted Jim Allen from ‘Discover Venison’ with a wonderful display of wild Suffolk venison. It all looked very tempting, and Jim’s very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about it, so we walked away with some venison mince and a rolled shoulder joint to pop in the freezer.
We probably don’t eat as much venison as we should, especially when you consider that it is a healthier alternative to beef. According to Jim’s website, it has the benefits of being a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids, whilst being lower in fat and cholesterol. It also has lower calories than beef and a slightly higher iron content. Fancy that?
Anyway, I created this delicious Suffolk Vension Pie with the mince: a layered topping of thinly sliced potato and celeriac with a rich, red wine flavoured stew beneath. Truly one of the most satisfyingly tasty supper dishes I’ve eaten.
You will need…
- 500g minced venison
- 300ml red wine
- 2 tablespoons of rapeseed or light cooking oil
- 2 red onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 small leek, sliced twice vertically and then across quite finely
- 1 dessertspoon of tomato paste
- 1 dessertspoon of plum chutney, redcurrant or bramble jelly (gives a fruity edge that works so well with game, if you don’t use chutney add a scant teaspoon of red wine vinegar to the jelly)
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced with a mandolin
- 1 small or 1/2 large celeriac – peeled and finely sliced with a mandolin
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 20g butter
- Heat the cooking oil in a heavy pan. Add the onions, garlic and carrots and sweat them gently for about 10 minutes.
- Add the venison mince and brown it gently.
- Add in the chopped leeks. Once they have wilted, add the red wine, bay leaves, tomato paste and chutney.
- Bring to a gentle simmer, add a lid and cook very gently for about an hour. The meat should be tender, the gravy should be thickened and rich. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C.
- Place the venison mixture into an ovenproof dish with enough depth to add the potato and celeriac layer.
- Layer the thin slices of potato and celeriac on top, season each layer and dot with butter. End with a potato layer and dot with more butter. You are creating a kind of Pommes Anna layer in effect (you could just as easily top this with potato and celeriac mash).
- Cover with foil and cook in the oven for an hour. To see if it it’s ready or not, just test the topping with the point of a knife. If it gives and is soft, it’s done. If not, give it another 15 minutes.
- Remove the foil and brown the top with the oven grill element on. It should be golden and crispy on top.
Serve with green vegetables such as cabbage or sprouts. This is richer and has a depth of flavour that minced beef simply doesn’t deliver and would make an excellent Christmas Eve supper. It’s delicious anyway. Go on, discover venison!