I was struck by two things recently: one is that it’s flipping chilly now; the other is that I hardly ever feature meaty dishes on this blog. There’s a veritable panoply of bread and quiches but meat-wise only the odd burger and a sprinkling of ham. I don’t know why this is. Cheese and fish together often make me feel a bit queasy but there are plenty of classic cheesy meat dishes out there. So I thought I’d try a bit harder. I’ve also been trying harder to eat more game so when I saw a variation of this recipe in my Ultimate Slow Cooker book, a plan started to come together.
If you didn’t have venison, you could always use beef; the cookbook used a foreign-blue-cheese-that-will-remain-nameless and a tangy cheddar could work well too. I used Cropwell Bishop Stilton, a creamy, spicy little number made in Nottinghamshire by the Skailes family:
This is a hearty, rich dish, perfect for these winter evenings with some greens and a glass of red.
1 tbsp olive oil
750g venison shoulder, diced
1 large red onion, sliced
125g field mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
200ml red wine
250ml beef or chicken stock
2 tsp tomato puree
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tsp peppercorns, roughly crushed
Salt and pepper
250g self-raising flour
40g butter, diced
125g Stilton cheese, rind removed and diced
3 tbsp chopped chives
1 egg, beaten
4-5 tbsp milk
Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and brown the venison, a few pieces at a time if necessary. Transfer to a plate. Add the onion to the pan and fry for five minutes then add the mushrooms, garlic and flour and cook for one minute.
Stir in the wine, stock, tomato puree, jelly, peppercorns and seasoning and bring to the boil. At this point you can either add the venison and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker (cook for 8-10 hours on low) or you can cook the casserole slowly on the hob for two or so hours, or until the venison is falling apart.
To make the scones put the flour in a bowl, add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips, as if you were making a crumble. Add seasoning and the chives and cheese. Reserve one tablespoon of egg for glazing and add the rest to the flour mixture with enough milk to make a soft dough.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C fan-assisted/Gas Mark 6. Transfer the cooked venison casserole to an ovenproof dish. Lightly knead the scone dough and then form it into a round that’s slightly smaller than the top of your dish. Cut it into eight wedges and arrange them, slightly apart, on top of the mixture.
Brush with the rest of the egg (avoiding near the edge of the dish or it will go black and sticky) and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the scones have risen and are golden.