Nowhere else does venison quite like we do in Scotland. Lean and packed with flavour, it is also low in fat and high in iron. It is practically perfect, and never more so than when paired with rich gravy in a delicious pie. Serve this one with mashed potatoes or neeps and tatties for a delicious family dinner. Buy meat from the shoulder or shin and cut it into pieces slightly larger than bite-sized. If you have time, marinate the meat in 200ml of red wine with some chopped carrots, a roughly diced onion, two juniper berries and a bay leaf.
Mushroom and Hazelnut Risotto (serves 4)
1 kilogram of venison
3 tablespoons (45ml) of olive oil
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
6 chopped rashers of streaky bacon or 100g of lardons
175g shallots or 1 medium onion, sliced
50g tomato puree
45g plain flour
120g mild flavour mushrooms, for example button mushrooms
400ml (3/4 pint) venison, beef or vegetable stock
Puff pastry for the pie lid
2 bay leaves
6-8 juniper berries
2 teaspoons (10g) dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Gently heat the olive oil and sauté the bacon and shallots for 5-6 minutes until the shallots are soft and transparent. Take them out and put to one side, then put the meat in (drained, if it has been marinading) and brown it on all sides. Brown the venison in small batches then stir in the garlic, tomato paste and pepper.
Add the flour and stir so to coat the meat and onions. Add the mushrooms, bay leaf, 5-6 juniper berries and thyme, and return the cooked onion and bacon to the pan.
If you used a marinade, add it here with enough stock to make up to 600ml (1 pint) of liquid. Otherwise, use the plain red wine and stock.
Cover and cook at a low simmer on the stove or in the oven for an hour.
Remove the bay leaves and transfer the filling to a pie dish. Top with puff pastry and brush with a beaten egg. Cook for 20-25 minutes at Gas Mark 6 / 200C until the top is golden brown and the edges have puffed up.