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Venison in Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 2kg shoulder or haunch of venison
  • Olive oil (use a mild one, not your best extra virgin!) and butter, for browning
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 5 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 parsnips, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 dried chillies, crumbled
  • 500ml game stock (or stock made from bouillon cubes)
  • ½ bottle full-bodied red wine
  • 100g Dark Bitter-Sweet chocolate chips    
  • 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

For the marinade

  • 1 bottle full-bodied red wine
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 4–5 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed
  • salt and pepper

Method

  • Cut the venison into 2.5cm cubes, removing large bits of fat or gristle. Mix together the marinade ingredients and pour over the venison. Set aside for a day in the fridge, turning every so often so that all of the meat comes into contact with the marinade.
  • When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C / gas 5, and remove the venison from the marinade, setting the marinade aside for later.
  • Heat a large casserole over a high heat and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and a knob of butter. When it is very hot add the venison cubes, 6 or 7 at a time, so that you are not overcrowding the pan. Brown the meat on all sides for 1–2 minutes, letting the pan get hot again between each batch and adding more oil if necessary.
  • When the meat is all browned, set it aside while you brown the vegetables. Add a tablespoon of oil to the casserole and sweat the onions for 5 minutes before adding the carrots, celery and parsnips. Cook for a further 10 minutes, allowing the vegetables to start caramelising without letting them burn. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Return the venison to the casserole, along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring up to a gentle simmer, stirring to melt the chocolate into the sauce. Cook in the preheated oven for about 90 minutes. Check from time to time, and if more liquid is needed, add from the reserved, strained marinade. When ready, the meat should be tender and falling apart.

 

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