Venison is such a lovely meat to casserole on the Big Green Egg. The EGG seems to overcome that one problem you can have with venison – its tendency to dry out. To be able to combine this with a seasonal ‘bounty crop’ was just too good a chance to miss. We had been given some beautiful cubed venison which seemed to contain a mix of the more obvious stewing pieces of venison with some of the more tender braising cuts. Unfortunately, this was all the information we had, nor did we know from which type of deer the venison came. In reality any venison listed for braising or casseroling would be fine. The most likely source would be shoulder venison. We also had some fresh chestnuts that we had picked when walking in Italy and had brought back to the UK in our cool box! We also used our own dried porcini mushrooms that we had dried when in Italy which made the dish very special for us.
Preparation was relatively simple and was done on the stove top – but could have been completed on the EGG if it hadn’t been raining so heavily. The mushrooms were covered in cold water and left for 5 mins. This first water was poured away to remove any debris and then they were covered again with around 300ml of just boiled water and left for 20 mins. Meanwhile our Dutch oven was heated and a little oil added, followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves. We were using some homemade pancetta, but shop bought would work equally well. Once the pancetta pieces were lightly coloured and some of their fat had been rendered they were removed from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
The venison was then lightly floured with a seasoned flour and fried off in batches in the Dutch oven. It is important to fry them until each piece takes on some colour. These were then set aside too. Then into the pan we added the roughly chopped onion and as soon as that was taking on some colour the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery. Usually in a dish like this we would chop the vegetables finely – but on this occasion we wanted a combination of finely chopped for flavour and coarsely chopped for texture and visual appeal. These were all stirred through the oils to lightly sauté. The herbs and spices were then added and cooked for around 15 mins in total. It may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage. The tomato puree and some red wine were then added and the heat on the Dutch oven turned up to deglaze the pan. In the absence of any juniper berries a slug of gin was also included. Once the pan was deglazed the venison and pancetta were reintroduced together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large.)
Finally the mix of beef and chicken stock, together with the porcini soaking liquor was added and the whole pan was brought up to a simmer.
Around 30 mins from the end of the cooking 2 large handfuls of cooked chestnuts (these had been boiled and peeled) were added together with a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.
Venison chestnut and Porcini Casserole
A venison casserole enhanced with the autumnal tastes of chestnuts and porcini mushrooms
- 25g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 100g pancetta (or smoked bacon) lardons
- 1kg venison shoulder, cut into 2-3cm dice
- 1-2 tbsp flour
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic sliced finely
- 3 celery sticks, coarsely and finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, coarsely and finely chopped
- A sprig of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- A pinch of ground cloves
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 200ml red wine
- 200ml of mixed chicken and beef stock ! Suggest one stockpot of each
- 1 tablespoon recurrant jelly
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 large handfuls or 1 pack of cooked chestnuts added near the end
- 400g mushrooms sliced added at the end
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Salt and black pepper
- Step 1 Cover the mushrooms with cold water and leave for 5 mins. Pour away this first water. Cover again with around 300ml of just boiled water and leave for 20 mins.
- Step 2 Heat the Dutch oven and add a little oil followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves. Once the pancetta pieces are lightly coloured and some of their fat has been rendered remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
- Step 3 Flour the venison with flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and fry off in batches in the Dutch oven till the meat takes on some colour. Set aside.
- Step 4 Add the roughly chopped onion to the pan and as soon as that was taking on some colour add the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery. Stir through the oil to lightly sauté.
- Step 5 Add the herbs and spices and cook for around 15 mins in total. It is may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.
- Step 6 Add the tomato puree and some red wine and increase the heat on the Dutch to deglaze the pan. In the absence of any juniper berries add a slug of gin.
- Step 7 Once the pan is deglazed reintroduce the venison and pancetta together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large). Add the mix of beef and chicken stock together with the porcini soaking liquor and bring to a simmer.
- Step 8 Put the uncovered Dutch in the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat). When within about 30 mins of the end of the cooking add the cooked chestnuts and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly. Heat some butter in a large frying pan and cook the chopped fresh mushrooms until they start to wilt. Season well and cook until they take on some colour then tip into the venison pan and stir through.
- Step 9 Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the casserole is too fluid – mix a little cornflour in cold water and add some of the stock to this and then stir through the casserole and cook for 10 mins more. Serve with mashed potatoes and add some freshly chopped parsley