Crumpets with Venison

Doe a dinner, a crumpet dinner...

As with our other casserole suggestions, given the effort involved, it's worth doing a fair quantity of this if you have friends or a freezer.

Preparation: 2 days! Serves: 12 crumpets
Cooking: 2.5 hours Cold-buttered crumpets
Ingredients Quantity (metric) Quantity (imperial)
Venison (trimmed and cubed) 1.2 kg 2.65 lb
Red wine 750 ml 1 bottle
Juniper berries (dried) 6 6
Bay leaves (fresh or dried) 2 2
Garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped) 2 2
Thyme (fresh) 2 tsp 2 tsp
Plain flour 2 tbsp 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper Plenty Plenty
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp 2 tbsp
Butter 50 g 1.75 oz
Medium white onions (peeled and finely chopped) 2 2
Tomato puree 2 tbsp 2 tbsp
Beef stock 1 litre 1.75 pints
Browning 1 tsp 1 tsp
Cornflour If necessary



      The thinking ahead

      1. Put the cubed venison in a bowl with the red wine, juniper berries, bay leaves, garlic and thyme. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 days. This obviously requires some advance planning, but only takes about 10 minutes, and makes a world of difference to the ultimate result.
      2. We've found it easier to trim the venison at the end of this process.

      The casserole

      1. Drain the venison in a colander over a bowl, reserving the marinade.
      2. Trim the venison pieces, dry the meat using kitchen towel, then dust lightly in the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper.
      3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan (which you won't be using again) and, at a high heat, fry the meat until browned all over. Depending on the size of your pan, you'll probably want to do this in batches so that every piece has an opportunity to feel the heat. Remove the meat from the pan and set to one side, retaining any juices that it throws off.
      4. Melt the butter over a low heat in a large saucepan or casserole pot, then stir in the onion. Cook gently for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the tomato puree and then the reserved marinade, stirring to avoid lumps. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, by which time the liquid should have reduced by about half.
      5. Add the browning to the stock (this just makes for a nice rich colour; leave it out if this is of no concern to you - as we did for the photos), then add the meat, the stock and plenty of salt and pepper to the saucepan.
      6. Bring back to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid, and cook over a very low heat for about an hour and a half, until the meat is tender.
      7. By this stage, the sauce should have a lovely thick consistency. If it doesn’t, add some cornflour, dissolved in cold water. If it’s too thick, water is your man.

      The crumpets

      1. We'd suggest serving the casserole to the side of the crumpets, as it's liable to cause sogginess if served on top.