Pictures of meat on a plate are not that attractive are they? So these are some of the other ingredients!
It’s November. You’re driving home from the station. The rain is slashing down, the leaves are falling and it’s dark. You fall in through the back door wondering what’s for supper. And miraculously, there on the stove before your very eyes, someone has placed a large vat of venison casserole. All you need to do it heat it up and make some creamy potato and celeriac mash with a bit of wasabi in it? Are you with me?
So what you needed to do was, the night before, lightly season and flour 1kg venison in a plastic carrier bag. Bounce it around a bit and all the pieces will be covered in flour. Gently fry a large onion in oil and butter with a cinnamon stick, a bay leaf and two teaspoons of caraway seed. When the onions are soft, add one medium sized grated (raw) beetroot and cook for a couple more minutes. Remove from the pan. Then, in batches, brown the meat in the pan, adding a little more oil if necessary. Return the onion and beetroot to the pan and mix into the meat. Add one bottle of red wine and 200ml good dark stock (a cube will do), add seasoning, one chopped apple and a packet of Merchant Gourmet or similar vacuum packed (whole) chestnuts). Stir well. Bring to a gentle simmer, put the cinnamon stick back in and cook with the lid on for at least two hours. By then the meat should be tender and the sauce reduced by 25-30%. Now you can either eat it or leave it in the pan, covered, until the following night. In my opinion the flavour is vastly improved for an overnight slump in a saucepan. If you are really organised you could prepare equal quantities of potato and celeriac and put them in a pan of cold water – anticipating that dash home from work in the dark and the wet.
Either way, when you are ready to eat, bring the meat back to the boil and gently bubble away for another 15 minutes with the lid off. Then remove from the heat. This little rest will mean the meat relaxes a bit and the gravy is a bearable temperature so you might stand a chance of actually tasking it! Meanwhile boil the potato and celeriac till soft then drain them and return to the pan with 50g butter and a good shake of white pepper, a good sprinkling of salt, and mash, mash, mash till creamy. A potato ricer is perfect for this job but I hate washing it up! So when mashed, then beat beat beat with a wooden spoon. Then add 100ml sour cream or natural yogurt and a good squirt of wasabi (or english mustard, or a handful of cheese – whatever is good for you) and beat again.
I recommend serving in a bowl, with feet tucked up, on the sofa, woodburner blazing and maybe a glass of dark ale. Or a large glass of red. Because you’re worth it!