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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.
A little butter was put into a large frying pan and the chopped fresh mushrooms were cooked until they started to wilt. They were seasoned and cooked until they took on some colour. They were then tipped into the venison pan and stirred through. The seasoning was adjusted.
Cooking on the EGG even without the lid tends to retain moisture. 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.
We served with mashed potatoes, the last of our mange toute and added some freshly chopped parsley
…………………………….. a lovely rich autumnal dish!
A venison casserole enhanced with the autumnal tastes of chestnuts and porcini mushrooms
This is a very short follow up on the Autumn Pork and Chestnut Terrine blog from a few weeks ago which you can find here. This was largely the same recipe and so we will not repeat that here. The differences were simple and largely for visual appeal. Instead of confining the pancetta lardons to a layer in the middle of the terrine, these were mixed into the terrine mixture. Their place was taken by a thin layer of chicken breast. This had been cut off some chicken we were going to eat that evening. On top of the chicken layer we added a more substantial layer of the boiled chestnuts.
The final difference was that we bought enough pancetta slices this time to cover the whole terrine! In the UK if I buy pancetta it is usually cut a little thicker than we find in Italy. We therefore tend to stretch it and thin it a little by running the back of a knife along its length. There was no need to do that with the thinner pancetta.
We have also been asked what we would use instead of the Tuscan sausages when we cook this in the UK. The answer is quite simple in that these Tuscan sausages are just minced pork (a mixture of shoulder and belly usually) with a generous dose of salt and pepper. So in the UK minced pork bought from a butcher or pork minced at home. The only point to watch is that Italian pork tends to be more fatty than the pork we have become used to in the UK. It is this that gives it its special taste. So if you are trying to recreate this don’t stint on the pork fat. Indeed, if you get the chance (in the UK) add a little more!
As the sausages in Tuscany are already seasoned we have needed to add less salt and pepper to the overall mix. If using minced pork you will need to add more. If in doubt – fry a little of the mix off, let it cool well and taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Alter the overall amounts of the ingredients to suit the size of your terrine. If you keep the proportions similar to this you won’t go far wrong.
Sometimes it is the simplest of dishes that give the most satisfaction. This is very much one of those dishes! It is hard to better simple roast potatoes – but this is a dish that does that!. Indeed it would be a lovely simple supper dish in its own right! This is a sautéed potato dish with onions, garlic, rosemary and peas. The secret is to hold your nerve and cook it for (more…)
We have returned to this dish so often – in so many ways it has been the ‘go to’ dish of the summer! It has also been popular with friends who have adopted the dish and have added it to their own regular cooking repertoire. It is incredibly versatile and so easy to cook too! – see original post with recipe here
The transformation of a simple fennel bulb and a handful of small tomatoes requires no more than some heat and a heavy metal surface on which to allow the caramelising process to occur. To balance the dish, a little salt and pepper, perhaps a teaspoon of fennel seeds and some rapeseed oil – let the magic begin!
Whilst you could do this dish in a domestic oven it is perfectly suited to Kamado cooking with a combination of bottom heat and oven cooking.
We have served it as a Tapas, as an amuse bouche, with flaked parmesan, with fish, with steak, with pork………………..
The only decision making you need is how caramelised you want to make it. On one occasion we left it, as we thought, too long, and if anything it was better still …………….. this is just a dish that keeps on giving!!!
Try your own twist on how you serve it, but remember to share your best ideas with us here!
Having been pleased at the outcome of our fried and grilled calves liver recipe, I wanted to go back and try the more conventional approach. We had reverted to grilling the meat after initial frying as the temperature of our plancha/pan had really not been hot enough when we added the liver. The situation had been made worse because (more…)
When we were in Italy we were very fortunate to be given some Mazze di Tamburo (Parasol mushrooms). These were found in the local chestnut groves and although we had seen them growing, our knowledge of wild mushrooms is such that unless we are with someone who clearly knows what they are doing – we leave them well alone! We can buy our fungi in the local vegetable shop (these will almost always have been found by local people who actually know that what they are picking is safe!). These however were a gift from someone we trusted and this made them all the better! (more…)
We were in holiday in Tuscany in the late summer and early autumn in 2019. This is later in the year than we had normally gone and it certainly felt different. Gone was the searing summer heat and in this agricultural part of Italy everything was gearing to harvest time: grapes, olives, mushrooms and chestnuts!
We were in a region with lots of chestnut trees (more…)
This is a liver dish that you may well enjoy even if you don’t like liver! Better still it is one of those perfect dishes that comes about when something didn’t go according to plan in the cooking. Here it was the ‘rescue’ that made the dish – and it is now a fixed part of the way we cook calves liver on the Big Green Egg. As someone who likes liver in various forms I find it just a little strange that there are as many people who don’t like it as there are those of us who do. And rather like with marmite, people don’t sit on the fences, but polarise into one camp or the other! Don’t stop reading now though, this may just be the dish that wins you over if you are a doubter! (more…)
We have been playing around with a few meat free dishes, such as our slow roasted caramelised fennel dish and our roasted cauliflower with truffle oil and toasted flax seeds. But although we like vegetarian food our experience is limited. Finding the book “Charred” by Genevieve Taylor seemed like a great opportunity (more…)
It is 2 years now since we did the Sea Bream and Sea Bass cook when on holiday in Italy. I remember it as a delightful evening as we sat out overlooking the local valley with a herby smoky aroma wafting towards us as we had an early evening Prosecco! So when we were back in Tuscany it seemed a perfect opportunity to (more…)
It was lovely to be able to roast 2 beautiful slow grown chicken breasts – butchered as supremes, with the first part of the wing bone and the skin included. Even better when roasted on a bed of rosemary with just a hint of wood smoke! (more…)
My name is Mark and these pages reflect some of the enjoyment my wife Jackie and I have with our outdoor cooking. The idea of cooking over wood, or charcoal has a certain primeval appeal and we have been through a whole series of outdoor cooking devices and different BBQs over the years to get to where we are now!
That change to “where we are now” came with discovery of the ‘Big Green Egg®” inspired by clay cooking vessel developed around 3000 years ago in China, it now embraces the Japanese name “Kamado” actually meaning oven or fireplace.
The Big Green Egg really transformed our outdoor cooking and indeed led us to move a lot of our “indoor cooking” to our “outside oven”. So when warm enough in the UK we cook and eat outside – when cooler – we often cook outside and eat-in!
The versitility of the Big Green Egg will hopefully become apparent as you “flick though these pages”. This blog started as a simple repository for ideas and to record our cooking “experiments” but is beginning to expand to include some “tried and tested” recipes as well as those used in the cooking experiments which are included in the Blog pages!
As well as being versatile the Big Green Egg is a very “forgiving” cooking device but one which also encourages surprising consistency and opportunities for experiment.
We do hope you enjoy the site and enjoy experimenting with some of the recipes!