Rachel has bought herself a casserole and invented what looks like a scrummy lamb and bacon casserole with Polish apple beer to cook in it.
Despite the fact she’s apparently planning to put up her Christmas decorations before December 24th, I’m taking the opportunity to offer her — and anyone else — the recipe for a casserole that I’m doing for some friends shortly. It’s a tried and tested favourite, originally found by my late wife in, I think, a Readers Digest cookbook. The fruits complement the venison surprisingly well and also render its gamey taste more palatable for folks who don’t generally like that sort of thing.
Serves 4 — 6; Preparation time 1 hour, cooking time 2 hours. Serve with rice or potatoes.
3lb (1.4kg) shoulder or leg of venison, boned
2 medium-sized onions
4 cloves garlic
1 small green chilli pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground oregano
14 oz (400g)tin chopped tomatoes
13/4 pints (1 litre) beef stock
1 pint (570ml) Guinness
2 Granny Smith or other dessert apples
6oz (175g) pineapple (preferably fresh)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon chilli powder (or cayenne)
1/3 pint (190ml) water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Chop the onions coarsely, crush the garlic and chop the chilli pepper very finely. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic and chilli for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain, remove and set aside.
Put the cumin and oregano into a small pan and heat gently until they release their scent. Put aside.
Cut the venison into 1 inch (25mm) chunks and brown them in the remaining oil. Add the onion mixture and spices. Cook, stirring constantly, for five minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock and Guinness to the meat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 11/2 — 2 hours (or until it’s tender).
While the meat is cooking, peel the apples and pineapple. Dice coarsely and purée in a blender with the cinnamon, vinegar, allspice, salt, sugar and chilli powder with 1/3 pint (190ml) water. Heat vegetable oil and sauté the mixture until most of the liquid evaporates.
When the meat is cooked, take it out of the liquid and lay it on a warm dish. Add the fruit mixture to the casserole and mix it with the liquid. You may, if you wish, thicken the sauce by mixing 1 teaspoon of cornflower with a little water and stir it into the cooking liquid. Simmer the sauce gently for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve.