Venison stew with marsala

Thank you, Peter Mandelson.  No, you don't know me from a bar of soap and you may or may not have seen the recipe I'm about to blog and who knows if you even like venison?  You could be vegetarian or even vegan.  I don't know but if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be posting this now.  And our North American readers are unlikely to know who you are unless they follow UK news closely.  Our UK ones will be wondering if I've well and truly flipped.

Let me elucidate:  on p.7 of the Times on Thursday January 26, 2017 Mandy's remarks on globalisation and the merits of free trade were quoted and reference is made to a report which was co-authored by none other than Alex Glennie. 

Beginning to get it now?  Not quite.  Let me go on.

David spotted the article, I of course dashed out to buy all the copies I could get my hands on (still sitting in an unopened pile in the sitting room as I'm not quite sure what to do with several dozen [not quite!] of the things) but I did flip through one of them and when I got to the recipe for venison stew with Marsala (Lyndsey Bareham on p.3 of T2), I sat up and got interested.  After all, the steak Marsala some weeks ago was a great success and the bottle is still there, minus what I used then plus another glassful which I had one night to try it without food.  It's OK but I'll stick to the sauv blanc or cab sauv I think.

The recipe is great and stands alone with no additions or subtractions.  In fact it needs no substitutions either but I discovered that I didn't have enough stewing venison so had to supplement with beef and it was still great.  But I know the pure venison version would be better still and I can imagine how it tastes.

My only complaint with the recipe is that the instructions are printed in a huge block with no spaces so one has to keep rereading all the preceding bits to get to where one left off in the preparation.

And if ever Mandy comes to dinner, I'll trot this one out and hope he likes it!

2 large onions
2 cloves garlic
1 large sprig rosemary
50g butter
2-4 tbsp olive oil
75g diced pancetta
1.5 kg venison (or stewing steak) cut into large cubes
4 tbsp plain flour
100 ml red wine vinegar
150 ml red wine
10 cloves
10 juniper berries
1 bay leaf
700 ml chicken stock (I used vegetable but then I always do)
150 ml Marsala
25g flat leaf parsley
1 large unwaxed lemon

Heat oven to 170ºC.  Peel and dice the onions.  Peel and chop 1 clove garlic.  Chop the rosemary leaves very finely.

Heat 25g of the butter and 2 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan and stir in the these three plus the pancetta.  Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until the onion is browned and the pancetta crisp.  Scoop into a sieve over the pan so the oil will drain back and then tip the pancetta mixture onto a plate.

Toss the venison with 2 tbsp flour, increase the heat and quickly brown the meat, using extra oil if needed.

Transfer meat to a heavy-bottomed lidded casserole that is hob oven safe.  Add the wine and vinegar to the sauté pan and let it bubble up for a moment, scraping any bits from the side of the pan into the liquid.  Pour the liquid over the meat, add the pancetta mixture and transfer the casserole dish onto the hob and cook together on a low heat, stirring frequently until the liquid gets slightly syrupy.

Crush cloves and juniper berries with a pestle and mortar and add to the meat with the stock and bay leaf.  When it is simmering gently, remove from heat, cover the pan with a sheet of greaseproof paper* and the lid and put into the oven.  Cook for 60 minutes.

Remove stew from the oven.  Melt remaining butter in a small pan, stir in 2 tbsp flour to make a roux and add gradually to the stew, stirring as it thickens.  Stir in Marsala, cover again and return to the oven for another 45 - 60 minutes until the meat is very tender.

Just before you remove the stew from the oven, mix up a gremolata:  to do this, finely chop the parsley, zest the lemon and chop the other garlic clove and mix all three together.

Serve the stew sprinkled with the gremolata.

I must add that we did not drink white wine with this although the glass in the picture might lead you to believe that.  No, there was a little white left from another occasion and it was our aperitif which got into the shot unfortunately.  Red really goes so much better. 

You will all have your fave accompaniments to stew but a mashed mix of potato and either parsnip or sweet potato or even squash works very well and carrots add colour.

This was a tricky one to get photos for.  Even the contributor of this one, Lindsey Bareham, admits that the gremolata 'brightens the look of this very brown stew'.  I've taken a few but I think you need to try it and you'll be convinced.  It's slightly more time consuming than some, but get someone to help you chop and dice (David rose magnificently to the occasion this time), open a bottle of wine and the preparation all becomes great fun.

You can see that it does require a few kitchen items and I don't 'wash as I go' so this all had to be dealt with afterwards. Well worth it, we all agreed.


  1. The Steak Marsala recipe was delicious so I shall definitely try this venison/beef stew recipe. Perfect for this ultra-cold weather. And if Mandy does ever come for dinner....get him to do the washing up!!

  2. You bet! And he can bring the wine.