Monday, 25 February 2008

Maltese Venison Stew

Traditionally this tomato and wine based stew is made with rabbit, unfortunately I haven't the option of obtaining fresh rabbit from a friend's farm like I did in Australia and the only mainstream supermarket that seems to sell it is Waitrose. So I have made do with venison instead, which is much more readily available and still has a nice gamey flavour. Alternatively you can use lamb shanks or stewing beef, chicken is also an option but requires a shorter cooking time.

Please take note this dish has a 3 hour cooking time, not including preparation.

Serves 3 - 4


400g diced Vension
2 large echalion shallots (or 1 small onion), roughly chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
175 mls red wine (you're allowed to drink the rest! A nice chianti preferably)
2 tbls tomato concentrate
400 grams chopped tomatoes
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped into large slices
2 medium King Edward potatoes, chopped in large even pieces
1 cup fresh peas
1 lamb stock cube
half teaspoon brown sugar
half a teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil


1. In a large saucepan, over a medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the onions, frying gently until soft, add the garlic and turn the heat up slightly, cook until browned.

2. Keep on a medium-high heat, add the diced venison and turn over once or twice until browned. Pour in the red wine and stir, when the wine has begun to boil, add the tomato concentrate and chopped tomatoes, once it has begun to boil again turn down the heat to a gentle simmer.

3. Add the lamb stock cube, pepper, nutmeg and sugar and stir through, cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for 1.5 hours (in the meantime, have a nice long bath and drink some of the wine), so the sauce is simmering very gently without bubbling on the surface too much. Stir occasionally - better yet, get someone else to do it so you can stay in the bath longer.

4. After the 1.5 hours is up, add the vegetables, cover again and continue to simmer on a low heat for a further hour. Take another bath? I just do my nails.

5. After the one hour is up, uncover and simmer on a slightly higher heat for half an hour to make sure the sauce has reduced properly, stirring every now and then, if it appears to be reducing a little too quickly, pour in a little water from time to time.

6. In the last few minutes of cooking time, stir through the peas gently to not break up the venison too much. The stew is done once the peas are cooked.

7. Serve with hot crusty bread or over freshly prepared ribbon pasta.

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