We first had slow cooked venison when my wonderful husband surprised me with a trip to France to be with my best friend, Véronique, and her family for New Year celebrations a few years ago. This was the dish prepared for lunch on New Years Day and her son, Fabien was in charge of cooking it. The venison, a shoulder, was to be cooked in the oven in the gite where we would be sleeping, and Fabien needed to have it in the oven by 5am! We quickly gave him the key and told him to let himself in and out as he needed, while we slept after a wonderful (but late) New Year's Eve of Celebrations with the family. The meal was outstanding and has been forever in our memories.
With a knuckle of venison in the freezer, I decided that I would try to replicate the recipe. I messaged Fabien and he told me that it had to be seared then cooked with vegetables, garlic and white wine (preferably a sweeter white wine), for seven hours. So this is the recipe that came from the messaging.
- 1 kg of Venison knuckle
- 1 onion pealed
- 1 medium parsnip pealed
- 1 stick of celery pealed
- 1 large carrot pealed
- 2 large cloves of garlic pealed and finely chopped
- 5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
- 4 juniper berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 750 ml white wine a good sweetish white wine
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- 1 tbsp apple jelly
- 2 tbsp butter chilled and diced
Preheat your oven to 110˚C (fan).
Finely dice the onion, parsnip, celery and carrot - this is your mirepoix.
Place the parsley, bay leaves and juniper berries into a small piece of muslin and tie to form a little bag of aromats.
Season the venison with salt and peppr.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pot over a medium/high heat, and sear the venison on all sides until nicely browned. Remove the venison and set aside.
Add the mirepoix and finely chopped garlic to the pot and sauté until the onion is tender.
Turn up the heat, return the venison to the pot and add the white wine, boil for 2-3 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol.
Reduce the heat, add the bag of aromats, and then cover the entire surface of the liquid and meat with a “cartouche” (see notes).
Finally put the lid on the pot and place the pot into the preheated oven.
Cook for seven hours, turning the venison every hour.
When cooked, remove the venison from the pot, place on a plate, and cover loosely with foil to keep it warm.
Strain the liquid from the solids in the pot, discard the solids and return the liquid to the pot.
Place the pot over medium/high heat and boil to reduce the liquid to approximately 1 cup.
Add the apple jelly and stir until it melts into the liquid.
Finally whisk in the diced butter, this will slightly thicken the sauce and make it shine.
Carve the meat into 1 cm thick slices and serve with the sauce and creamy mashed parsnips.
For a cartouche simply cut a circle of parchment/baking paper slightly larger than the dimension of your pot, scrunch it up and place under running cold water to dampen and soften it. Flatten it and then place it onto the liquid surface of a casserole, soup, stock or sauce. This slows down the evaporation, prevents a skin from forming and helps to keep the ingredients submerged, as well as moist.
A mirepoix is a combination of finely diced vegetables such as carrots, parsnip, celery and onions used to add flavour and aroma to food during the cooking process.