Or are you feeling like all this premature festivity has gotten all a bit too much too soon? Do you just want to get your own back on those around you who have already broken out the Santa hats in the office?
Whichever pre-Christmas camp you find yourself in I can heartily recommend cooking up a bit of boozy venison to either feel all warm and festive or to pretend that it's a Rudolf stew and indulge your leanings either way.
Because you are slow cooking the meat you can go for a cheaper cut of like leg or shoulder, many supermarkets are breaking out their little packs of diced casserole venison too which is perfect. If you really don't fancy the idea of venison then you can use beef and just cut back on the jelly. Game needs that bit of sweetness so if using beef you could add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar instead.
You'll need: (serves 6)
- 200g butter
- 1 large onion, sliced
- pinch salt
- plenty of ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons plain flour
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- few sprigs fresh thyme or 2 big pinches dried thyme
- 750g venison cut into big cubes
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1/2 a swede roughly chopped
- 8 pickling onions, peeled and kept whole
- 1 pint red wine
- 1 pint beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 heaped tablespoon Eldersherry Jelly or Redcurrant Jelly
- Preheat you oven to 160C. In a big ovenproof casserole pan melt the butter then add onion, garlic, thyme, swede, carrot and a pinch of salt and cook gently to soften for about 15 minutes. This seems like a long time but the salt will draw out the juices from the onion and everything will caramelise and sweeten. Remove the veg from the pan and set aside leaving the butter.
- Put your cubed venison in a big bowl with the flour, pepper and another pinch of salt and mix well, tip into the pan with the butter and cook until the meat is brown on the outside.
- Add your cooked veg then pour in the wine, stock, bay leaves and add your peeled shallots. Scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pan to mix in with the juices.
- Cook in the oven for 1 hour then add your jelly, stir then return to the oven for another hour.
- Taste for seasoning, then serve on a bed of creamy mash or polenta, and with some winter greens and veg on the side and preferably with a bottle of red wine and an open fire.