Winter is all about hearty foods and puds. It's a time to pillage your summer and autumn Wild plunders and preserves and cook next to a warm oven. This recipe is as reassuring as a warm kitchen. Its delicious, its simple and although it appears to take a long time to cook takes very little time to prepare.
Venison Stew with Wild Majoram Dumplings
1/2 Wine Glass of Port
1 Litre beef stock
50g dried Wild Marjoram
350g self-raising flour
From the garden:
4 Bay leaves
Small bunch of Thyme
Get the oven on to 140C.
You can ask your Butcher to cut the Venison into 2cm cubes. Place the cut Venison into a large plastic bag with the flour and some seasoning. Close the bag and shake it really well to coat all the meat with the seasoned flour. Melt the dripping (or whatever fat you would prefer) in a very large ovenproof casserole dish and put in the Venison and shallots. Give everything a good stir and cook for 10 mins until starting to brown - try not to to turn the meat of shallots very often to assure the caramelisation). Next roughly chop the Celery and Carrots (skin on, tops removed) and add these along with the crushed Juniper Berries and Bay leaves. Fry for another minute or so. Next turn up the heat to full and pour over the Port, scraping the bottom of the pan and making sure you release any crispy caramelised flavour. Next. Pour over the stock, season and add the Hawthorn Ketchup, stir and cover with a lid, transfering to cook in the oven for 2½ hrs, or until the meat is tender.
Just before the beef cooking time is up chop and stir the Thyme into the stew and make the dumplings. Mix all the ingredients with 175ml cold water to form a heavy dough. Roll the dough into balls about the size of golf balls. Pop the dumplings into the casserole dish, leave off the lid and return to the oven. Increase heat to 200C and cook for 15-25 mins until the dumplings are puffed up, golden and cooked through.
I'm sorry if you don't drink but this dish needs a glass of red with it. Serve the Venison stew in bowls with plenty of the rich gravy and of course two or three of those delcious Wild Marjoram infused dumplings..
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