Venison Casserole with Cheddar Chive Dumplings
The days are getting longer and the nights shorter, but it’s still chilly outside. I am fooled when the sun shines through the bedroom window at 6am in the morning as I expect it to be warm outside. I know summer is coming but one must be patient and still enjoy the best of the present season. This venison casserole with cheddar chive dumplings is probably the very last real winter warmer that I will be cooking and posting until the autumn arrives later in the year.
I have used a standard venison casserole mix for this recipe. As the mix contains some of everything it must be cooked with extra care to ensure that the meat does not dry out and become leathery. As a further safeguard I have dusted the raw venison meat in seasoned flour and browned it until golden brown before adding the rest of the ingredients, this will ensure that the juices are trapped inside the meat. It’s also important to cook the casserole over very low heat, a gentle simmer will ensure tender chunks of meat.
I have been deliberating for quite some time now about making dumplings. It’s almost as if I never had a good enough reason to make them. They have that slight peasant connection but boy oh boy they are delicious and definitely not a peasants meal when served with this glorious dish.
There are a few different ways that you can cook dumplings and you might feel that my method is a somewhat long winded. I cooked the dumplings separately in a pan of simmering stock and transferred them at the end to the casserole. One reason is that dumplings are quite fragile when being cooked so you cannot stir the casserole with ease if the dumplings are present. The second reason is that the dumplings should cook at a faster simmer where as the casserole will be cooking at a very gentle simmer, almost just “ticking over”. Believe it or not that is actually a proper cooking term that we use in the profession; “ticking over” indicates a very low heat, barely boiling.
Like most things in life this casserole gets better with age. I re-heated the rest of the casserole two days later and it’s almost as if the flavours have matured. That was true convenience food, however wrong that might sound.
- 500g diced venison casserole mix
- 30g plain flour
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 tbs sunflower oil
- 2 banana shallots, peeled and diced 1cm dice
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced 1cm dice
- 2 sticks of celery, diced 1cm dice
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 in number cloves, crushed
- 100ml red wine
- 500ml chicken or beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of rosemary
If you buy the venison already diced, remove it from the packet and pat dry using kitchen paper.
Prepare the vegetables, wash , cut and set aside.
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper . Add the diced venison, toss to cover the meat in the flour.
Heat half the oil in a large casserole dish and saute the venison until golden brown all over, remove and set aside.
Return the casserole dish to the heat and saute the carrots, shallots and celery in the remaining oil until golden brown. Add the venison, crushed coriander, cloves and the remaining flour left over from dusting the venison, saute for about 4 minutes.
Deglaze the casserole dish with the red wine and cook until the wine becomes thick and sticky, add the stock.
Cover the casserole dish with a lid and bring the casserole to a gentle simmer, add the bay leaf and rosemary, stir and cook the casserole over very low heat for 35 - 40 minutes.
Food Fanatics Tip
It's very important not to cook the casserole over a high heat, it must just about tick over as venison is very lean, contains hardly any fat and will become leathery and dry very quickly. You almost poach the venison in the sauce. By covering the meat in flour before browning protects the lean fat free meat, if you do not do that the meat can also become dry and very chewy.
Cheddar and Chive Dumplings
- 100g self raising flour
- 50g vegetable or beef suet
- 25g grated mature cheddar cheese
- 1tbs chopped fresh chives
- 75g ice cold water
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 L chicken or beef stock
While the casserole is cooking make the dumplings and cook them in a separate pan in boiling chicken or beef stock.
Weigh the flour, suet, chopped chives, grated cheddar cheese, salt and pepper into a mixing bowl, mix well.
Add the ice cold water and mix quickly, do not knead the dough as it will become heavy and claggy.
Form 8 even size dumpling balls.
Bring the stock to a gentle simmer, place the dumplings in the simmering stock and cook them for 15 -20 minutes without a lid.
Once the casserole and dumplings are cooked, carefully transfer the dumplings to the casserole dish, bring it back to the simmer for 5 minutes and serve the casserole piping hot.