As December greets us with a carpet of russet leaves, we naturally gravitate towards deeper flavours and seek comfort in the Winter kitchen.
I cook a lot of venison throughout the year but especially in these colder months its a brilliant ingredient for heartier dishes such as stews, pies and casseroles.
Venison is incredibly diverse and is a healthier swap from traditional red meat. Full of essential nutrients and free from artificial hormones, antibiotics and other nasties, venison is a healthy and tasty choice to incorporate into everyday cooking.
With no natural predators anymore (historically wolves) careful management of deer population is vital for a thriving and balanced ecosystem. Left unmanaged, overpopulated herds pose negative threats to woodland, other wildlife and even urban areas.
Venison is not only an environmentally conscious meat, but also a highly nutritious ingredient that can be used in place of beef in many recipes.
This ragu is a great recipe to make when the weather is blustery and you’re craving a hug in a bowl. You could either use a casserole pan like I did or cook this on low in a slow cooker.
500g venison diced
100g bacon lardons
1 onion finely diced
3 garlic cloves finely crushed
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp tomato purée
Sizzle the lardons in a casserole pan in a drizzle of olive oil with the onions and bay leaves until golden.
Meanwhile thoroughly season the venison having brought it up to room temperature. Add the garlic and venison to the pan searing the meat on all sides.
Pour the wine in the pan, enough to cover the meat. Pour a glass for yourself too! I used about half a bottle in the pan. Let it bubble for a few minutes, then stir in the tomato purée.
Simmer on a low heat for about 2 hours, until the meat almost falls apart. Check it a few times and if it’s looking a little dry add some water. When you’re ready to serve shred the meat a little while leaving some textured bits too.
I served mine with pasta but this would be equally good over a buttery jacket potato. A perfect wholesome and wild supper!