Rich venison casserole:

Rich venison casserole:

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      2 hours or more.

Course:        Main

Serves:         4

Rating:         3:  Moderate.

Venison is beautiful when cooked long and low.  It’s like a rich beef.

For 4 people, find:

  • 1 kg of boneless stewing venison.
  • Root veg – carrots, turnips
  • Button onions – the cheap ones from the supermarket
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Half a bottle of red wine
  • Two mugs of stock (see Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Some fresh thyme – if not, use dried
  • Fresh chopped parsley if you can get hold of it – a handful
  • Two tablespoons plain flour
  • A large saucepan that will also go into the oven or a large oven dish and a saucepan.

Method:

  • If the meat is not already cubed, cut to 1” cubes. If it’s already cubed, just trim off any really large lumps of fat.  Don’t be over-fussy with the trimming because the long, slow cooking will melt away most of the now-grotty-looking bits – that’s one of the beauties of this dish, it makes beautiful food from relatively low-cost cuts of venison – which itself is not cheap (Quite deer actually!).
  • Put some olive oil and butter into the saucepan, allow it to melt and mingle and then introduce the cubes of venison.
  • Turn the heat up to high. There needs to be space in the pan for the meat to brown.  If the meat is too crowded in the pan, it will start to sweat, lose moisture and refuse to brown.  We want the surface to brown, to enhance the flavours of the venison – give it space.
  • You may have to do this in several batches, adding further oil/butter as necessary, to get it all browned properly.
  • Put all the venison back into the saucepan when browned, and introduce the flour.
  • Stir it all in with the oil, butter, juices, etc so that they are all absorbed. Put the wine into saucepan and stir all the sticky bits into the wine.
  • Add the stock.  Boil up and ensure that all the bits have been loosened from the pan.  Add the root veg, onions and garlic.
  • If the saucepan is suitable for the oven, put on the lid and pop into the oven at gas mk 4 for an hour, then turn it down to Mk 3. Check after a further hour, or two to ensure it is not drying out.  Add more stock if necessary.  Ensure that all accompaniments are done.
  • If the pan is NOT suitable for use in the oven, tip all the contents into an oven dish and cover with foil and follow as above.
  • Serve with Dauphinoise potatoes, French beans, Chantenay carrots and a great big smile on your smug l’il face.

Yes, it is very similar to the Navarine of Lamb recipe; except where it’s different, of course.

Dragon’s Chicken & Tomato Casserole 1:

Dragon’s Chicken & Tomato Casserole 1:

Dragon?  Yes, my Dragon (my mother-in-Law) used to do this dish quite often, and it is with great respect that I name it after her.  She’s no longer with us and in the last few years, sadly fell foul of Altzheimer’s.  However, she’ll always be remembered for her generosity of mind and determined attitude.  Best Dragon I ever ‘ad! (I only had 2, but….)

PICTURE 19

 Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      60 mins. +

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:        2: Easy

Find:

  • 4 chicken leg quarters
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • Chicken stock cube.
  • A little wine if you have it
  • Flour
  • Seasoning
  • Oven dish

Method:

  • Prepare the chicken in the flour as in Fried Pepper Chicken.
  • Put the four pieces into the oven dish and pour on the can of chopped tomatoes, rinsing out the can with about half a can more and putting that in with the chicken stock cube.
  • Cover with foil and put into a pre-heated oven at gas mk 4 for around an hour or more.  2 hours would be fine. Check that the chicken has cooked through.
  • Serve with anything you like, but a good super-smooth mash works well with it, especially if you do a nice herb mash (see Tricks’n’Tips).

COQ AU VIN

COQ AU VIN:

(Or chicken in a rough red wine that was simply too cruddy to drink but I was too tight to chuck it down the sink so I thought I’d get some benefit from it somehow):

PICTURE 20

 

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      90 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        4-6

Rating:         2:  Easy – bordering on the inane, actually.

             I could tell you that this is the classic version of the French Coq au Vin – but I’d be lying.  Quite simply, I had some really cheap frozen chicken thighs in the bottom of the freezer – well, it described them as thighs on the bag, but they were more like offcuts!  I decided that a bottle of red wine – yes red – that was just too rough (even for me) to drink wasn’t going to go down the sink, so I thought that each sub-standard product could help the other out – and it worked!  I used two chicken bits per person and looked in the fridge for fresh veg….

             Find

  • 1 large red onion – or whatever colour you have handy
  • Two or more chicken bits per person (obviously, if they are big, just use one each!). Leave the skin on/take it off….. you choose.
  • Four big phallic carrots
  • One rather large and phallic leek (or two less phallic…)
  • 3 stock cubes
  • 1 bottle of cruddy red wine (cor, it was really ROUGH!)
  • As many cloves of garlic as you wish – prepare as described in Tricks’n’Tips
  • Seasoning to taste – certainly a good amount of coarsely ground black pepper…. Salt will be to taste later on.
  • Oil to fry with
  • Large frying pan
  • Ceramic casserole dish – a bigish lidded one (or whatever you can get that will go in the oven – if necessary use a foil lid.

Method

  • Slop some oil into a frying pan on a high heat, chuck the FULLY THAWED chicken pieces in, skin side down and fry them to gain a bit of colour. Turn them over.
  • Coarsely cut the onion into big rustic bits. Chuck that in with the chucky bits.
  • Do the same again, turning them once more, so the skin gets a second blasting. Turn them again and pop the bottle of red wine in.  It’ll Ssshhhhhhh a bit. That’s fine – you can pretend to be a Chef!
  • Don’t bother to peel the carrots unless they’re really rough, just top’n’tail ‘em. Hold the carrot in your hand and just cut chunks off at an angle, straight into the pan, turning the carrot after each cut so that they are all wedge-shaped.  Not too big or they’ll not cook through and be hard as bullets.
  • Chuck the prepared garlic in and stir.
  • Prepare the leek or leeks (see Tricks’n’Tips for the easy way – I see no reason to make cooking difficult), slice down the middle and cut into inch long pieces. Pop those into the oven dish.
  • Break the chicken / veg stock cubes into the oven dish.
  • Grind a good amount of black pepper into the oven dish.
  • If you have any jellified stock from the bottom of a fat cup or if you have any left-over gravy in the fridge, chuck that in as well. Stir it up.  The wine will stand it.
  • Bring the wine, chicken, onion & carrot to the boil in the frying pan, remove and re-settle the chicken pieces onto the leeks in the casserole, skin side up, and then bung the rest of the contents of the pan on top. Settle it all down again and add hot water, if necessary, to just about cover the veg & stuff.  Don’t drown it.
  • Put the lid on (or make a foil lid) and put it into a preheated oven at 220 Centigrade for about 40 minutes.
  • Take it out and move the contents around a bit. It’s important that nothing is too exposed above the liquid line. Adjust the seasoning.
  • Turn the oven down to about 180 and pop it back in for another 50 mins to an hour.
  • Take it out. Serve onto plates.  The carrots should have retained a little bit of resistance to bite, and the leeks should have really softened beautifully.  Mine did.

And there we are:  a lovely chicken dish made from the very cheapest of chicken bits.  Or ‘thighs’ as the bag told me.

But they were NEVER thighs!