For the first time in my life last week, I had left-over venison.The in-laws had been over for New Year’s Day’s lunch and we were pretending to be posh – Duke of Abercorn posh – and a haunch of venison was duly roasted and rested and divvied up as per the guidelines of a recipe.
However, as is the case with a whole haunch, there’s a fair aul bit of meat on the bones (just like myself in recent times) and so despite everyone eating their fill and despite said in-laws being packed off with a parcel of venison slices, there remained quite a bit of meat on the three and a half kilo hind-quarter.
Subsequently, I done what I had never done before and I Googled, ‘What to do with left-over venison.’
Those of us or a certain vintage (and sense of humour) will remember Billy Connolly talking about left-over venison during an imaginary conversation…
“I’ve a recipe here that says we can get rid of that left-over venison.”
“Thank f*** for that. I’ve had it up to here. If I see another bit o’ venison I’ll lose control. I can’t get the fridge door shut. The big deer’s head hanging oot… them big f****** antlers are spilling all the yoghurt.”
Thankfully, I had no such issue with antlers hanging ‘oot’ the fridge door, although the bowl of left-over haunch slices was demanding to be used. It’s not every day we have venison and certainly not every day there’s a surplus, so I decided all must be used.
First off, I made a quick honey and mustard dip and into that was dipped a great many off-cuts of the venison. What can I say? I’m a hungry bugger.
Next, I stripped the haunch of meat via a sharp knife and a bit of dedication. Most of the slices went into a bowl for later and the rest – the ones with sinews and bits of fat – went into the stock pot.
Now, regular readers (my mother at least) will know that I make stock a lot and though I love the scent of bubbling stock, there has been nothing to compare to the loveliness of the bubbling venison stock.
With a few veggie helpers (celery, carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and rosemary), I crafted what might well be the finest stock available to mankind on Sunday. It was a joy to behold, especially when I exited the house for logs only to return from the cold air and experience the warming, autumnal savoury scent of hearty venison stewing. I lost count of the number of times I stood over the stock pot wafting the aromas into my face. It was an olfactory facial with the promise of better times in the very near future.
Deadly stock does not a deadly dish make and so the following day I embarked on a left-over mission to use up the last of the venison slices. First, I toyed with the idea of making left-over pie, venison bubbled in the stock with carrots and onions and some flour to thicken. This is then topped with buttery mash and baked in the oven until bubbling and golden.
I eventually decided against this plan of action seeing as how I ate my own body weight in spuds over the festive period. Instead, I decided on venison chilli.
Do they have deer in Mexico? They probably do. Although if they aren’t making venison chilli, they’re missing a trick.
Speaking of Mexico also reminds me of Billy Connolly. He once said, “In Mexico, everything on the menu is the same dish. The only difference is the way it’s folded.”
Good man. Anyway, this is the recipe for the Best Left-over Venison Chill of All Time.
1 tbsp of venison fat (or olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 chilli peppers, finely chopped (take the seeds out if you want less heat)
1 heaped tsp of cumin
1 tbsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tbsp of tomato puree or ketchup
1 tsp of honey
250ml of venison or beef stock
500g (or thereabouts) of left-over venison slices, finely diced
3 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsps of Worcestershire sauce
good grinding of black pepper
1 tin of beans (I used haricot)
Start by frying up the onions and celery in the venison fat in a large frying pan for a few minutes to take away the rawness – about five minutes. You don’t want them completely soft; I think a bit of texture works well in the final dish.
Add in the chilli and garlic and stir-fry for another two minutes.
Add in the finely diced venison, the tomato puree, the Worcestershire, the herbs and spices and stir fry for a minute to get everything combined and heated through. This will also toast up the spices a little and get the aromas going. Give it a good grinding of black pepper and mix through.
Add in the sun-dried tomatoes, the tins of tomatoes, the honey and the stock and bring to the barest simmer. Let it bubble away for as long as it takes for the moisture to go, stirring from time to time.
After about half an hour to 45 minutes, you should have a thick chilli. Add in the beans and mix through and then taste-test. It’ll probably take a pinch or two of salt.
And that’s it. Devour over rice with sour cream, cheese and spring onions. Or fold into burritos or tacos with yet more cheese and sour cream. You could even layer it atop tortilla chips with yet more sour cream and cheese. Whatever way you enjoy it, rest assured the venison isn’t going to waste.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere
SUBSCRIBE TO CURRENT EDITION TODAYand get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
(CLICK ON THE TITLE BELOW TO SUBSCRIBE)