Midwinter Venison

This is a recipe for the cold, dark winter evenings. It is rich and satisfying and has the added bonus of being a dish which does most of the work for you and can be made in advance, which means that you can cook this for guests and still get to talk to them before dinner.

It looks good served in something like a Denby casserole,

Recipe: Midwinter Venison

Summary: A rich and satisfying meal for the winter.


  • 1lb /450g diced venison
  • 7oz/250g chestnut mushrooms
  • 10oz/275g shallots/baby onions
  • a good slosh of olive oil
  • ½oz/10g dairy-free spread
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 1 bottle of robust red wine
  • 3-4 tbsps ruby port (we’re not talking vintage here, go for something fairly cheap)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 4 ½oz/120g whole peeled chestnuts (that’s half a standard vacuum-packed tin)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190°C
  2. Peel the onions/shallots and cut in half any very large ones. Do try to keep the majority whole, as those you chop will more or less dissolve with the long cooking time and the whole ones are part of the look of the dish.
  3. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Aim for thick, chunky slices as this is in keeping with the character of the dish.
  4. Put the olive oil and the dairy-free spread into your flame-proof casserole and heat until the spread melts and starts to foam.
  5. Fry the venison chunks at a highish heat until they are brown. Don’t overcrowd the pan with meat or you will find that the moisture coming from the chunks will make them boil instead of frying and browning.
  6. Fry the onions/shallots gently for about 10 minutes until they are golden.
  7. When the onions are all browned, return the venison to the pan, scatter the flour over them and stir thoroughly.
  8. Add the mushrooms and stir through.
  9. Fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring gently from time to time.
  10. Pour in about 1/3 of the bottle of wine and add the port. Stir gently to blend the ingredients.
  11. Bring to a simmer while adding the bay leaves and the seasoning.
  12. Put the lid on the casserole and put it in the middle of the oven for about 2 hours, checking occasionally to stir gently and add a little more wine if the liquid levels drop too low. Resisit the temptation to drown the casserole in wine: you want the end result to be rich and velvety. I add about a cup of wine towards the end of the cooking time.
  13. After 2 hours, remove from the oven and leave to sit until 20 minutes before serving. If you’re keeping it overnight, it should be refrigerated when cool.
  14. When there are 20 minutes to serving time, put the casserole on the hob on a low gas. Add another cup of wine (unless the sauce is already fairly runny) and the chestnuts. Stir very gently.
  15. Bring back to a simmer and heat everything through gently. The sauce should be thick and dark.
  16. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Quick Notes

This makes a great centrepiece for a dinner party and goes well with braised red cabbage, roasted parsnips and sweet potato, plain mashed potato and a plain green vegetable.

Preparation time (duration): about 20 minutes

Cooking time (duration): 2 1/2 – 3 hours

Diet type: Dairy free

Number of servings (yield): 4-6

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: French

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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