Venison Stew with Apple Gratin and Spaetzle and a trip to the countryside
by eat in my kitchen
A few days ago I mentioned our little adventure in the countryside while we visited my mother and a kitchen project which involved the whole family!
My mother found out about a little farm in her area just recently. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place surrounded by green hills and dense forest. They raise and sell geese, turkey and deer, wild and farmed, and the lady who owns the farm offered one to my Mama. Ours was wild and we had to skin and dress it, something that none of us had ever done before. Luckily, my mother remembered that my cousin Thomas who is an excellent chef, is also experienced in butchering so he joined in to help us. We drove to the farm to pick up the game and I was quite excited but also a little nervous. When you see an animal that has been shot for your consumption you feel lots of respect. Buying our food from the supermarket takes this important experience away from us, but this is what happens when we buy meat, every day, all over the world, an animal is killed but we don’t see the steps in between. It’s cut up and wrapped in plastic and we pay for that but I believe that it’s important to build up this connection again, to the animals and where they come from. This is the natural cycle of our food and not the industrial. I joined my cousin while he prepared the deer and I learnt a lot from him. These days in my mother’s kitchen in the countryside were a great experience, when, as a family, we cooked for two days to use what was given to us. We made venison carpaccio, stew, paté and broth and my mother put the remaining parts, like the fillets and the back in the freezer. We used all of it and enjoyed every single meal!
My mother is the absolute queen when it comes to stew, hers are simply best! She knows how to combine the right spices and herbs, how to cook the meat so that it becomes tender and succulent. Whenever she makes a ragout it’s simply perfect! We also made Spaetzle as nothing beats these little homemade Swabian noodles to soak up an aromatic sauce. Our side dish was sweet and fruity, an apple gratin topped with crème fraîche. My mother found the inspiration for this recipe from one of her favourite food journalists, she just added lemon zest and pink peppercorns on top. It was wonderful, like the whole trip!
I didn’t want to share all these venison recipes with you at once, so I’ll write about my cousin’s delicious paté and his amazing carpaccio with a herb, spice and parmesan crust next week.
Venison Stew with Apple Gratin and Spaetzle
You can cook the stew in the oven or on the cooker as we did.
For 6 people you need
For the venison stew
venison leg or shoulder, boned and cut into chunks, 1.2kg / 2.5 pounds
leek, the white and light green parts, finely chopped into small cubes, 1
carrots, finely chopped into small cubes, 2
celery sticks, finely chopped into small cubes, 1 1/2
medium sized onion, finely chopped into small cubes, 1
garlic, cut in half, 2 big cloves
bacon, a small piece, around 60g / 2 ounces
red wine 1 bottle
broth about 1l / 2 pints (to cover the meat)
tomato paste 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper
bouquet garni (bound with a string):
small sage sprigs 2
small rosemary sprigs 2
small thyme sprigs 2
bay leaf 1
spices (wrapped in a spice bag if you prefer)
black peppercorns 10
juniper berries 6
cinnamon stick 1
ginger, chopped, a 2cm / 1″ piece
dried porcini 3
lingonberry jam to serve with the stew
In a large heavy casserole or pot, heat a splash of olive oil and brown the meat in batches, season with salt and pepper once it’s done. Set the meat aside and add a little more olive oil to the casserole, add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes on medium heat until golden. Turn up the heat and add the tomato paste, stir and deglaze with a little red wine, repeating this about 5-6 times. Add the meat, the bacon, the remaining wine and the broth to the casserole until it’s all covered in liquid. Put the bouquet garni and the spice bag into the liquid. Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring to the boil.
Cover with a lid and cook on medium-low heat (simmering) for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with Spaetzle (you can find the recipe here, just leave out the cheese and onions), apple gratin and lingonberry jam.
For the apple gratin
firm and sour apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced thinly, 3
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
sugar 2 teaspoons
crème fraîche or sour cream 300g / 10.5 ounces
heavy cream about 100 ml / 3.5 ounces
zest of 1/2 lemon
pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1-2 tablespoons
butter for the baking dish
Set the oven to 175°C / 350°F.
Whip the crème fraîche with the heavy cream, add enough cream until the texture is light and creamy.
Butter 1 large baking dish or gratin form (or 4-6 small ones). Arrange the apples in circles in the form and sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar. Spread the cream on top and sprinkle with the lemon zest and pink peppercorns. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top.