Question 1 “This early in the season, is this a piece of legally shot doe?”
Answer 1 “I’m told it is. The now infamous Wicklow Hunter tells me that they were out on a night shoot on the 31st October and ‘…just after midnight’ he downed a young doe. That brings it into the November season where that sort of thing is OK in Wicklow.”
In short: Doe.
Question 2 “What recipe are you going to use?”
Answer 2 (Here’s where the Homer like d’oh! could come into its own.) “I am going to try something totally original. I am going to cook Venison and Plum Stew.” Given that I had no real idea what to do with the venison, this was a brave outburst on my part. An outburst, fuelled by a glass or three of Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.
In short: D’oh!
The next day, following the outburst, I had to put my thinking cap on. It was too late to go back. I could not retreat to defeat. I came up with the list of ingredients.
Here’s what you’ll need
- 1.5 kilos of venison (3 lbs)
- 3 large onions
- 1 litre of chicken stock (2 pints)
- Some seasoned flour
- A big sprig of rosemary
- 8 carrots
- Salt and black pepper
- A teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 14 plums (Yes! 14)
- 3 sweet potatoes (yams)
If you are lucky enough to get your venison delivered on the bone in a bin bag (trash sack), you will have to use untried butchery methods to transform it into a nice pile of lean meat.
If you are unlucky enough to get your venison from the supermarket in shrink wrapped PVC, you will never take a photo like this:
Put the seasoned flour into a plastic bag, add the venison and shake it until the meat is coated on all sides. Do this while you get some oil heated in your favourite casserole dish.
Fry the meat in batches until brown on all sides. There will be a lot of nice brown residue stuck to the pot.
Remove the meat and add the chopped onions. They needed to be chopped into small pieces. Turn the heat down to very low and sweat the onions for 30 or 40 minutes. Add the stock, the meat, the various seasonings and the carrots.
Put it in the oven at 200 C for two hours. Wash the plums. Take them outside into the fading natural light and take a picture of them.
Now take them back indoors and cut them in half. Take an indoor photo of the plum halves.
Next peel and slice the sweet potatoes.
Season them and put them in an oven tray.
With half an hour to go, put the sweet potatoes into the oven above the casserole. Add the plum halves to the casserole. Stir them in and wait for the 30 minutes. When you take it out it will look like this.
Three generations of family were gathered around the table. The pressure was on. The Rutherford Ranch outburst was about to pay a dividend, good or bad?
The very good news is that the stew turned out better than I could have imagined. The flavours of the plums and venison worked incredibly well and the sweet potatoes added an extra dimension. I don’t often suggest it for my own recipes – TRY IT! I guarantee there will be no d’oh!.