I had started cooking thinking I’d make my basic Cottage Pie recipe, and just substitute the venison where appropriate. However, as I started preparing the meat I realised it was far too nice to mince, and so coarsely cubed it and started out to make a thicker, richer gravy sauce rather than my normal tomato based base. By keeping the meat separate from the sauce the meats flavour is allowed to persist on its own, and the richness of the sauce compliments rather than combines with those tastes.
Some would say that venison must be marinated for at least 24 hours before cooking. I believe this is a matter for personal taste, and also the quality of the venison. If the cut is not ideal, or the supply a tad too gamey, then marinating in an acidic sauce (orange juice and red wine, lemon juice, etc.) will help the meat break down and soften prior to cooking. In this instance the meat was of excellent quality, and had a delicate and subtle flavour that required no marinade!
Serves 4 | Preparation: 30 minutes | Cooking: 30-45 minutes
- 6 medium sized potatoes suitable for mashing
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil (or similar oil/butter substitute)
- approximately 1lb of venison (I was lucky enough to have some delicious loin cuts)
- 1 packet of corn starch
- 1 bottle of good red wine (you’ll only need 1 or 2 cups for cooking, the rest will be for with dinner)
- 1 cooking onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 cup sweet garden peas
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lingonberry jam (cranberry can be used as a substitute, but it really isn’t the same)
- 1 cup of orange juice (optional, can be substituted with water, cranberry juice, or more wine)
- A pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or all spice (or combination thereof)
- salt & pepper to taste
Begin by preparing mashed potatoes. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Add them to a large saucepan, and cover with enough water that they can all be submerged about an inch below the surface. You may salt the water if you like. Bring the water to the boil, and then simmer at a low boil for 20-25 minutes. Now is also a good time to preheat your oven to 425f.
While the potatoes are boiling, take a large saucepan or wok, and brown and soften the onion over a medium heat. When pale golden add the Worcestershire sauce and venison. Fry briefly until the outside is lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
In a saucepan place the wine, water or juice, spices, and lingonberry jam, and heat slowly. Unlike the reduction, here we’re looking to use the ehat to combine the flavours but keep most of the fluid, and not condense the flavours by boiling off the liquid. Peel and coarsely chop the carrots and add these and the peas to the saucepan. Lower the heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 to 10 minutes when the vegetables have started to soften. Prepare the corn starch with a few tablespoons of extra water, add this to the sauce and keep stirring for 2 more minutes to ensure everything is well mixed.
When the potatoes are ready, mash them and set them to one side. Take a large oven proof dish, and layer the venison and onions on the bottom. Pour over the sauce and vegetables, mix with the emat to ensure an even distribution.
Now take the mashed potatoes and make a layer over the meat and sauce using a spoon and fork. You should score the surface of the mash lightly with the fork to create a ridged effect. For best results this mash layer should be thinner than you would normally use on cottage pie, but can be flavoured with parsnip, etc. in the same manner. Place the dish in the middle of the oven for between 30 and 45 minutes or until the peaks of the mash darken and go golden brown.
Serve hot, and enjoy with other steamed vegetables if you so wish, and of course the remainder of the wine.