For easy entertaining on New Year’s eve you can’t beat this tender venison in red wine casserole. Marinate the meat for a few hours or overnight in red wine with juniper berries, rosemary and bay leaves to allow all the flavours to infuse into the meat, before cooking in the oven for about 2 hours. Serve with a big bowl of creamy mash and some green veg for a delicious meal that’s easy on the cook. You can replace the venison with lean braising steak if preferred, just add an extra 30 mins to the cooking time. Don’t stint on the wine you use for cooking, what goes in the pot should be good enough for you to drink, something like a fruity French Cotes du Rhone would be perfect.
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
- 1kg boneless venison (shoulder, breast or neck cuts are less expensive and ideal), cut into chunks
- 450ml red wine
- 3tbsp olive oil
- 500g shallots or baby onions, peeled
- 1tbsp tomato puree
- 2tbsp plain flour
- 300ml beef stock
- 250g chestnut mushrooms
- 3tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- Chopped parsley, to garnish
For the marinade, place the onion, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and juniper berries in a large non-metallic bowl. Add the venison, pour over the red wine and mix well. Cover the bowl with cling film and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Strain the venison mixture over a bowl to reserve the liquid. Pick out the venison pieces and pat dry on kitchen paper, discard the onion, garlic and herbs.
For the casserole, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Fan 150°C, Gas Mark 3. Heat 2tbsp of the oil in a flameproof casserole or frying pan. Fry the venison, in batches, for 3-4 mins until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining oil to the pan with the onions and fry for 5 mins to soften. Add the tomato puree and flour and cook for 1 min, stirring. Gradually add the reserved marinade with the stock and bring to the boil.
Return the venison to the casserole (if using a frying pan tip everything into a casserole dish) and add the mushrooms and rosemary. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover and cook in the oven for 1½ – 2hrs until the meat is tender. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with creamy mash and green veg.
You can cook this casserole the day before. Cool and chill then reheat it in the oven for 40 mins, adding a little extra stock if the sauce is too thick. Or, it can be frozen for up to 1 month, defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.