serves four to six
2 lb cubed shoulder of venison
8 oz. bacon
1 x 200 grams pack cooked and peeled whole chestnuts
¾ oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 pint rich Madeira
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
6 oz small dark-gilled chestnut mushrooms
1 rounded tablespoon plain flour
a few sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 275°F. You will also need a 6 pint lidded flameproof casserole.
Begin 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 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.
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