I have already posted a recipe with venison (venison fillet with mushroom & onion gravy); this time I am using a cheaper, but not less delicious, cut - stewing steak. The game season is not over yet and our local supermarket in the centre of Brussels currently offers a wide selection of gibier ("game" in French): wild boar, partridge, pheasant, wood pigeon and of course, venison. I chose the latter to make a warming winter stew, infused with juniper berries and bay leaves, and accompanied by fluffy celeriac mash.
For the stew:
- 400 gr of venison (in chunks); ask your butcher for a cut that is suitable for stewing
- 2 carrots
- 1 white onion
- 1 large celery stalk
- 6 juniper berries
- 3 bay leaves
- 200 ml of beef stock
- 2 heaped tablespoons of tomato purée
- 1 glass of red wine
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- A quarter of a large celeriac (or half a medium sized one)
- 2 large potatoes
- A large knob of butter
- A glug of extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Place a heavy cast-iron casserole pan on the hob set at medium heat and when nice and hot, add a glug of olive oil. Transfer a few chunks of meat in the pan (do not overcrowd it) and allow them to brown on all sides. Take them out and put them on a plate, reserving them for later. Repeat until all the meat chunks have been browned.
Turn the heat down to low and tip in the chopped vegetables. Let them cook for approximately 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. At this point add the meat back in, not forgetting any juices that will have collected at the bottom of the plate, and stir in the tomato purée. Let it cook for two minutes, always stirring, so that it can loose a little of its acidity. Next, pour the wine over the meat and turn the heat up; let it bubble for a few minutes, in order to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Finally, pour in the stock, add the bay leaves, juniper berries, a little salt and pepper and bring the stew to a gentle simmer. Cover it with a lid and let it cook at a gentle heat, either in the oven at 150°C or on the lowest setting of your hob, for 3 hours - 3 hours 1/2. It is ready when the gravy will have become thick and rich, and the meat chunks are incredibly tender and falling apart when you touch them with a fork. Adjust the seasoning and leave it to rest in a warm place, while you make the celeriac mash.
For the celeriac mash: peel the celeriac and the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Boil them in water for 15/20 or until tender; drain them well, then mash them up and season to taste with butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. The quantities are up to you; some people like a really buttery mash, other prefers a more lighter version with less butter and a bit more olive oil. It depends from your taste and on whether you are watching your waistline :-)
This stew can be made in advance (even the day before) so it is perfect for a dinner party or Sunday lunch; all you will have to prepare before seating down at the table will be the celeriac mash. In addition, it freezes well, so you can have a delicious supper even during the week, when you don't have all afternoon to cook.