Braised Venison with Bacon, Chestnuts and Wild Mushrooms in a Rich Madeira Sauce
This casserole freezes extremely well and fits the bill perfectly at Christmas when you have had enough turkey. Because it’s braised slowly, there are lots of lovely flavours and because the sauce, made with rich Madeira, is dark and glossy, this cries out for a pile of creamy, fluffy mashed potato.
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This recipe first appeared in Delia's Christmas Easy Magazine 2003
Begin this by heating half the oil in the casserole and, when it’s hot, add the onions and cook them for about 6 minutes, till they’re dark and caramelised at the edges. Then add the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute before removing the whole lot to a plate, using a draining spoon.
Next, add the bacon lardons or cubetti di pancetta to the casserole, toss them around in the hot fat till they turn golden, then transfer them, too, to the plate.Now add the rest of the oil and, keeping the heat high, brown the cubes of meat, about 6 at a time, removing them to join the onions as you go.
After that, add the fresh mushrooms and toss them around in the hot juices for another minute, then return everything from the plate back to the casserole. Stir well now, add a good seasoning of salt and pepper, then sprinkle in the flour, stirring again to soak up the juices, then gradually add the Madeira, still stirring.
Finally, add the thyme, the bay leaves, chestnuts and the dried porcini (having rinsed them first under a tap and broken up any extra-large pieces).
As soon as the whole thing reaches simmering point, put a lid on and transfer it to the oven to braise slowly for 2½ hours. Then remove the braised venison from the oven and, when it’s absolutely cold, transfer it to a plastic freezer box and freeze till needed.
To reheat, remove from the freezer and defrost at room temperature (about 4-5 hours).
Pre-heat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4.
Transfer the the venison to a casserole dish and heat in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until piping hot.
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