Guest post: Deer ‘n’ Beer April 23, 2011Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Drinks, Game, Guest post.
As I’m currently travelling overseas, I present to you a very special series of guest posts. This post is by my friend and colleague, Antonina. Antonina and I hit it off immediately upon meeting when we realised we had a shared interest in food and cocktails! Antonina doesn’t have a blog, but tweets about craft beer, cocktails, music and art under @aylewis…
Hello! Pour yourself a drink and let’s get acquainted…
My favourite detective fictions are the novels of Kinky Friedman, starring his eponymous dick for hire. Who is, I suspect, probably about as far removed aesthetically from Nero Wolfe as you can get. However, the two characters do share an appetite for good food, and I wouldn’t hesitate to serve either one of them a version of this venison and chocolate casserole. It’s a minimum-effort maximum-reward one-pot meal that ensures you’ll still have plenty of time for pre-dinner discussion of orchids, corpses and country music.
Prep: cut venison rump into large chunks & toss in seasoned flour to coat; slice some bacon; roughly chop selection of vegetables of choice – I used onion, carrots, leeks & garlic. You’ll also need fresh thyme, a bay leaf, crushed mixed peppercorns, smashed juniper berries, dark beer (Kinky) or red wine (Nero), stock, oil, salt, and a couple of squares of dark chocolate.
Set oven to 180°C. Heat a little oil in a casserole dish on the stovetop and sauté bacon for a few minutes, then remove and set aside. Add a bit more oil to the pan and cook the floured venison over a medium flame until browned all over. Remove meat from pan and set aside with the bacon. Put all the vegetables into the pan, along with the herbs, crushed peppercorns and juniper berries, and another splash of oil.
Cook, stirring regularly, until onions start to go translucent and golden, about 8 minutes. Pour in a glass of alcohol and bring to the boil, stirring to loosen any bits that have stuck to the base of the pan. Add a cup of stock. You want enough liquid in there to cover the ingredients but not so much that they’re swimming in it. Any kind of stock is fine – I used a vegetable stock, as the flavours are pretty rich already. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover with lid and transfer dish to oven. Cook until the venison is buttery tender: as a guide, about 2 hours, turning the oven off after 90 minutes. Remove dish from oven, find and discard the thyme stalks and bay leaf. Stir through 20g of finely grated dark chocolate.
I usually make this casserole with red wine, but I wanted to try it with a dark beer this time. To harmonise with the chocolate in the dish, I went with Mildura Brewery’s new chocolate stout, Choc Hops. This worked well, although the final result did have a slightly bitter note in the flavour profile compared to the red wine versions I’ve made before. Next time I’d probably go with a slightly sweeter beer, maybe a chocolate porter (something like Holgate’s Temptress) rather than chocolate stout. Come to think of it, either of these would also render an awesome pie filling… If you’re using red wine, go with the varietal or blend you like best. Just keep in mind (similar to the choice of stock): a full bodied Australian cabernet or shiraz will bolster the richness of the dish, so you might want to be a bit more restrained with the pour. Pinot, merlot, old-world style, you can be more generous.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the end result. So, here’s desert instead: a glass of Choc Hops paired with a slice of flourless chocolate and beetroot cake.
There’s a fine line between fiction and non-fiction and I think I snorted it…