Venison Stew with Red Wine and Juniper

This recipe isn’t particularly pretty or elegant… But it is so tasty! If you’re unsure on what to cook this weekend this is the perfect recipe to pop on in the morning, pretty much ignore, and be rewarded with a rich, comforting stew for dinner. Venison is right in season at the moment and it has a gorgeous flavour – gamy but not too strong – and is beautiful paired with rich red wine and the sharpness of juniper to cut through. We cooked ours in a slow cooker but this would work well either on the hob on a very low heat, or in the oven on about 150°C for a couple of hours.

Because of the red wine and the venison this feels a bit fancy – it could be a great and very easy dish to serve to guests, they’ll think you’re all posh but really you’ve ignored it all day! We served ours with mashed potato and some wilted, buttered kale. The kale works particularly well because like the juniper, it cuts through the richness. Stew is so versatile though, so it would be lovely with dumplings, or with a puff pastry top – whatever you feel like!

Ingredients (this made about 3 generous portions):

  • About 250g diced venison
  • 2 tbsp seasoned flour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 carrots, roughly diced
  • 4-5 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 sticks of celery, roughly diced
  • 1 leek, sliced into large rings
  • 1 large glass of red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 1 carton of chopped tomatoes

First coat the venison well in the seasoned flour, then brown in batches in a large frying pan/skillet using 1 tbsp of the oil. When browned pop straight in the slow cooker. Now tip all of the vegetables into the frying pan along with any leftover flour and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly golden and softened. Tip all of this into the slow cooker too. Then put the pan back on the heat and tip in about half of the wine to deglaze the pan making sure to scrape all the stuck bits, there’s lots of flavour in them! Tip this into the slow cooker along with the rest of the wine, the herbs and spices (if you wanted to put the juniper berries and peppercorns into a muslin bag to remove the possibility of crunching down on one then feel free… we’re just lazy), the chopped tomatoes and then half fill the carton/tin with water and tip that in too.

Good red wine is an essential accompaniment to this stew!
Good red wine is an essential accompaniment to this stew!

And that is it! We cooked ours on high for an hour and then on low for about 6-7 hours and served it with mash and wilted, buttered kale seasoned with pepper and a little nutmeg.

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