I so very nearly called this post ‘Prehistoric beef and beer stew’ but then thought at least one person might find that too funny to pass up for a joke.
This is one of the recipes from a book called ‘Prehistoric Cooking’ by Jacqui Wood. I picked this one because I was still experimenting with honey from last month’s article. My sister sent me the book, hopefully because she thought I would find it very interesting.
- 500g stewing steak
- 25g wholemeal flour
- 25g butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bunch of sorrel (grows wild, I have some cultivated in the garden)
- 50g honey
- 1 pint of ale
- Cut the meat into 2cm cubes, and dust with the flour
- Fry the meat in the butter until browned. Use a casserole dish with a well-fitting lid.
- Add salt, chopped sorrel, honey and beer.
- Put on the lid of the casserole and cook over a low heat for one and a half hours, until the beef is tender.
For authenticity, serve with wholemeal bread rather than potatoes. Carrots are a good side dish.
Once upon a time, I decided to try cooking a leg of lamb with cider instead of wine. It was delicious. I just found the recipe again.
- A joint of lamb
- 750ml cider
- salt and pepper
- 1 heaped tsp dried rosemary
- a pinch of ground ginger
- 1 onion, chopped
- Rub the lamb with the salt, pepper and ginger, and put into a casserole dish that fits well. Sprinkle with rosemary and pour in the cider. Cover, and bake at 140 C for 3+ hours
- We served with roast parsnips, roast potatoes and buttered cabbage
We have just finished eating this, and it was tender and delicious. I think this is a version of a Spanish recipe, I have a note that one of my daughters copied it from Gordon Ramsey’s Healthy Appetite .
- 1 leg of lamb, around 2kg – part-boned if possible
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 oranges, sliced
- A sprig of thyme
- Heat the oven to 220 C
- Trim the joint of any superfluous fat. Mix the ginger, thyme and paprika with 1 tsp salt and a few good grinds from the pepper grinder, and rub this mixture all over the lamb, including the boned cavity, if it was boned.
- Fill the boned cavity with the garlic and half the orange slices. If the lamb is not boned, create a pocket in the meat, and fill that instead.
- Put the lamb on a rack in a pan, baste with olive oil, and put a bit of water in the bottom of the pan. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes in the hot oven, then replenish the water.
- Turn the heat down to 190 C and roast for a further 25 minutes per 500g. If the top of the lamb is getting a little dark during the cooking, cover with foil. Keep the water topped up as well, if it is in danger of becoming dry.
- For the last half hour, cover the lamb with the remaining slices of orange.At the end of the cooking time, transfer the lamb to a suitable platter for carving, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Carve thin slices and serve with potatoes and vegetables.
Here is another recipe for organic shoulder of lamb. These local lambs have a lot of shoulders! We have just finished eating this, and it was tender and delicious. We adapted it from Two Fat Ladies: Full Throttle and I used herbs and spices from seasoned pioneers.
- 1 shoulder of lamb, about 2kg
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained
- 100ml olive oil
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 1 pint of water or stock
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 2 tsp Ras el Hanout
- Salt and pepper
- 450g local potatoes peeled and chopped into large dice (e.g. Charlotte potatoes)
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon.
- Heat the oven to 140C
- Trim the joint of any superfluous fat
- Heat the oil in a large casserole and brown the lamb. Set the lamb aside.
- Add the onions and cook until they are soft but not brown.
- Add the chickpeas and water, bring to the boil and then stir in the herbs, spices, salt and pepper, and the lamb.
- Put the casserole in the oven for 3 hours
- Add the potatoes and lemon juice, cover again and cook for a further 45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
Any left-over chickpeas and gravy are excellent as a separate dish. I served this with couscous and a salad.
This is a rich, chunky soup with lots of flavour and it uses lots of ingredients that I can get locally. It is another Ottolenghi recipe.
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 170g celeriac, in bits about the size of a cannellini bean
- 2 heads of garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 500g lamb, in 2cm cubes
- 1.75 litres of water
- 1 can of cannellini beans OR 100g dried beans, soaked overnight and drained.
- 7 cardamom pods, lightly squashed
- (you could add a stick of cinnamon as well)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp caster sugar or date syrup
- 4 firm potatoes such as Charlotte or Jersey Royal, 2cm cubes
- salt and black pepper
- Juice of half a lemon
- Chopped coriander and green chillies (depending on your taste)
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and fry the onion and celeriac over a medium heat until starting to brown. This takes around 5 minutes
- Add the garlic cloves and cumin and cook for another two minutes before turning off the heat.
- Put the meat and water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 10 minutes, and skim the surface to get a clear broth.
- Add the onion and celeriac, the soaked cannellini beans, (if using tinned beans, wait until later) along with the turmeric, cardamom, sugar and tomato puree. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour so that the lamb and beans are tender.
- Add the potatoes, 1 level tsp salt, pepper, canned beans, and bring back to the simmer. Cook for a further 20 minutes, with the lid off the pan, to thicken the soup.
- When the soup is cooked, add the lemon juice and check the seasoning. Serve garnished with chopped coriander. You could add chopped parsley and hot green chillies. Ottolenghi gives a recipe for Zhoug which can be used as a garnish.
Serve with bread.
This is a recipe from Elizabeth David ‘French Provincial Cooking’. We are making our way through the prodigious quantities of food in the freezer, and this time I hauled out a stew pack of venison. This was easy and tasty, I used the timer function on my oven to cook it slowly through the afternoon.
- Around 900g to 1kg venison. If it is in one piece, tie it to a sausage shape
- 4 tbsp full-bodied red wine
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp flour (I used gluten-free flour)
- salt and pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 rashers of streaky bacon
- 1 onion, sliced
- Put the venison in a container with a lid, and add the red wine, vinegar and olive oil. Leave to marinade overnight.
- Put the meat in a smallish casserole dish with the marinade. In a small cup, mix the flour with a little marinade to make a paste, and stir that in, also add the bay leaves and salt and pepper.
- Over the top of the meat, layer slices of onion and then streaky bacon.
- Cover, and cook at 150C for four hours.
We served this with fried mushrooms and potato and celeriac mash.
I made the weekly raid on the freezer for my birthday evening meal, and pulled out a shank of red deer venison. I hadn’t cooked this cut before, so I did a bit of googling, looked at the ingredients in the fridge and then made this braised venison. I think it would have worked well for up to two shanks, so we have ended up with a very tasty gravy for a second meal.
I’ve got really into using gluten-free flour as a thickener for stews and soups, the consistency of the gravy is good, not gluey at all.
- 1 or 2 red deer venison shanks (see above)
- 2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 small or 1 large stick of celery, diced
- approx 50g butter
- olive oil
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- a bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 250ml red wine
- 250ml vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- 2 tsp juniper berries, bruised in a pestle and mortar
- 1 tbsp gluten-free flour
- Season the venison well with salt and pepper.
- In a pan that is big enough to cook the shanks, melt the butter in the olive oil. Set the oven to 150C
- Over a moderate heat, brown the shanks, one at a time, and then set aside.
- Reduce to a low heat, add the onions, carrots and celery to the same pan, and cook until softened.
- Add the red wine, and reduce
- Add the stock, bay, thyme, and juniper and tomatoes and cook down for around 15 minutes. This will give a better consistency and taste at the end.
- Add the venison shanks, bring back to a simmer and then cook in the oven for 4 hours. For the last 30 minutes of cooking, prepare any side dishes such as mash, cabbage, etcetera.
- At the end of cooking, remove the shanks from the pan, and mix the flour with a spoon or two of the gravy before adding to the pan and bringing to a simmer for around 5 minutes.
This is an excellent recipe for using up left-overs. The key ingredients are potatoes, meat and onion. The version here is my basic recipe, but it can be adapted to incorporate all sorts.
- 30g lard, butter or dripping
- 1 onion, finely chopped (I sometimes add a leek too)
- 1/2 a turnip (or swede, if you are English), peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- (optional, shredded cabbage, diced celery, etcetera)
- 600g potatoes, peeled and roughly sliced
- Around 100ml stock or left-over gravy
- Around 200g chopped cooked meat (could be varied according to what is available, both in type and quantity)
- A grate of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- Melt the fat in the bottom of a large pan, and fry the onion (and leeks, celery, if you are using this) over a low heat until soft and almost browning.
- Add the potatoes and stir them in. When they are hot, add the carrots and the turnip and any other extra vegetables, and stir to mix.
- Heat the stock and pour it in, adding the chopped meat at the same time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir again.
- Cover the pot and simmer over a low heat for around 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are beginning to break down. Check from time to time to see how the potatoes are cooking, to stir together and to assess whether any more stock needs to be added.
Very warm, filling and thrifty.
I have used red wine and chocolate before, in a stew with beef, served with fried potatoes and prunes in brandy, stunning. This I tried after watching a videoclip of Gordon Ramsey cooking venison backstrap. No quantities were given, but I have found some clues elsewhere. I added rather too much chocolate the first time. I also struggled to find all of the ingredients he used, so I had to substitute a little.
- Venison back-strap – allow a piece of meat around 5cm x 5cm x 2.5cm, approx 200g or similar for each person. I took one piece of the back-strap and cut it into three. I used local red deer venison.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp butter
- 3 shallots or one white onion if shallots are not available – finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic – finely chopped
- 2 bayleaves
- 5 sprigs of thyme, or a tsp dried thyme
- 12 black peppercorns, ground
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (the original recipe uses raspberry vinegar, but not available locally
- 300ml chicken stock
- 300ml red wine
- 30g unsweetened dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated.
- 100g smoked pancetta or streaky bacon
- Heat the oven to 220C. Cut some grease-proof paper, one section for each serving, and large enough to wrap up a portion of venison.
- Lightly season the venison with salt. Heat the oil in a pan until it is very hot, and then sear the venison on all sides.
- For each portion of venison, place on a piece of grease-proof paper, add a teaspoon of butter, wrap and put onto a small roasting tray. Put into the oven for eight to nine minutes.
- To make the sauce, fry the onion and pancetta in a small pan with a little olive oil , thyme, bayleaves and black pepper. As it starts to brown, add the garlic until that too is cooked.
- Add 300ml red wine, and reduce to a thick sauce by simmering.
- Add 300ml stock, and reduce by simmering.
- Strain out the solid ingredients. To the hot sauce, add a teaspoon of vinegar, and then whisk in the grated chocolate over a low heat. Do not bring back to the boil, just hot enough to melt the chocolate and no more.
- Take the venison from the oven, slice and then pour over the red wine and chocolate sauce.
I served this with roasted brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. This is definitely good with mash and green vegetables.
I have been posting a lot of recipes for rabbit and venison, and there is a good reason for that. I live on an island that has beautiful sandy habitats called Machair on the west, facing the sea, and heather-covered hills to the east. The Uist islands are one of the few places left where the machair is still managed.
The rabbits have invaded the machair, and are eroding the dunes, and deer numbers are out of control, spreading ticks and with them Lyme disease as well as damaging native ecosystems. Wild greylag geese crop the machair lands very close, pulling up vegetation by the roots and fouling the grasslands.
The existence of the machair, and the biodiversity that it supports, depends on low level agriculture. This includes controlling the species that are present, wild and otherwise. Rabbits, geese and deer need to be controlled to keep the dunes safe, the grasslands in good condition, and conserving some of the more fragile aspects of our environment. By researching tasty recipes and passing them on, I am supporting local diversity.