This recipe really ought to be started the day before you want to eat it, as it is far better when allowed to mature for 24 hours.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2lb / 900g venison cut into 2cm cubes
- 1lb / 450g belly pork, skinned and cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 12oz / 350g open mushrooms- more flavour- sliced
- knob of butter
- 2 sprigs of thyme, 3 bay leaves and the green part of a leek tied in a bundle
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon redcurrant or rowan jelly
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of cornflour slaked with water or wine
- Chopped fresh parsley
Granary bread croutons (make these while you are cooking the stew on day one). Cube the stale bread. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a tablespoon of butter in a roasting tin in the oven. When it is hot, add the bread, tossing it in the oil and return to the lower oven for approximately 20 minutes. When they are golden remove from the oven, place on a piece of absorbent paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Keep in an airtight box until you need them.
For the stew:- heat a large heavy frying pan until smoking and add 1 tablespoon of oil and fry the onions, placing them in a large casserole when they have softened and started to brown at the edges.
Next, fry the pork in small batches (if you put too much meat in the pan it will stew, not seal) and place in a large casserole. Follow this with the venison which will benefit from being sealed in pork fat. Add the remaining oil if you need to.
Deglaze the pan with some of the wine, scraping up all the good bits, and then pour it over the sealed meats. Add the crushed garlic, the bundle of herbs, the rest of the wine and the seasoning.
Bring the casserole to the boil on top of the stove and the place in the top oven of an Aga or at 200c or gas 6 and cook for 1 hour. Remove and keep in a cool place for 24 hours to allow the flavours to emerge.
The following day, set the oven to 180c or gas mark 4, or arrange the Aga oven so you can place the stew on the bottom of the top oven. Heat the stew gently and sauté the mushrooms in the butter in a frying pan with some seasoning until the juices run, and then add to the pot. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and give the stew a good stir. Take out the herby bundle, squeezing out the juices and then add the jelly and check the flavour. Re-season if necessary. At this point you can decide if you wish to have a thicker sauce. If so, add the slaked cornflour little by little until it seems right.
Keep in a warm place until you are ready to serve and sprinkle with croutons and chopped parsley.