Doe or D’oh!? – Venison and Plum Stew


Not the sort of thing one expects to have delivered. Particularly as I’m not a butcher.

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!

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

The offending (though not at all offensive) Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

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.


I managed to do the gruesome bit and get a decent result.

If you are unlucky enough to get your venison from the supermarket in shrink wrapped PVC, you will never take a photo like this:


The gratuitous meat shot. Not that everybody wants to take photos of big clumps of raw meat.

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.


The meat coated on all sides, ready to fry it off in the casserole. Good close up camera work!

Fry the meat in batches until brown on all sides. There will be a lot of nice brown residue stuck to the pot.


Starting to look tasty. Starting to smell very tasty too.

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.


The gratuitous carrot shot. Don’t ask, I don’t know why I put it in.

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.


I love the beautiful autumnal colours in the plums.

Now take them back indoors and cut them in half. Take an indoor photo of the plum halves.


The halves look nearly as nice as the uncut ones. Too nice to joke about.

Next peel and slice the sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes

This is real life. A lot of peeling in these beauties.

Season them and put them in an oven tray.

Sweet potatoes

The sweet potatoes ready to go in the oven. Use plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper.

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.

Venison and plum stew

My venison and plum stew looked lovely. But would it taste OK? Too sweet? Would the meat be too tough? Damn my rash decisions.

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?

Venison stew

It certainly looked OK. What about the taste?

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!.

Venison stew

I suppose there’s no need for a caption for this one?

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Latest comments
  • Venison with sweet potatoes and plums sounds decadently delicious.

  • Great Improv … I may fiddle with your basic idea and pair plum with Caribou.

    • Caribou. There’s something I have never eaten. Moose, yes.

      • I like caribou … never ate Moose that I didn’t dislike intensely 🙁

        • I have had it in Norway. Delicious on the BBQ.

  • There is venison in my freezer. I’ll definitely be trying your recipe Conor.

    • Thanks Karen. It was pretty tasty. I hope you enjoy it.

  • Super good. Looks very tasty. The pictures are delicious. Keep ‘outburst’-ing 🙂

  • That’s a lovely piece of venison. I’d be happy to go out and shoot it myself, though usually the butcher cuts pieces off the bone for me 😉

    • I am blessed with the Wicklow Hunter. He appears out of nowhere and leaves me beautiful food.

  • That is a lot of plums! We still have a few pieces of venison in our freezer from last year. I think it’s time to go in search of a bunch of plums. This sounds delicious!

    • Everybody who ate it loved it. Give it a go.

  • There’s that orange pot – very fitting with the potato. I’ve never eaten venison at least not sober – what’s it like – I suspect a little dry if you don’t get it just right?

    • It is pretty dry. It needs something from the fruit or berry camp to give it a bit of contrast. Good, young meat is beautiful. Old Stag meat is dire and should be avoided (like the live stag).

  • Lovely recipe and great photos as usual. The combination of venison with plums and sweet potato is inspired! I would only change one thing: use the venison bones to make stock rather than using chicken stock! And perhaps try sage?
    Should be great with a nice amarone 🙂

    • Good suggestions. However, if I had taken the time to cook the stock, the dinner would not have been prepared and I would be back in the dog house. Sage is an excellent idea. I have it growing outside my back door too.

      • Good point. We are skinning a hare tomorrow, and you can bet I will make a stock out of the carcass. (We = my husband, I come in once the skin and nasty bits are gone to cut the meat off the bone.)

        • I will be posting about rabbit in a couple of weeks. I was saved from the skinning too.
          Not that I would shirk it if I had to (said in a deep manly voice).

  • I would definitely eat this. I assume there weren’t any leftovers. 🙁

    • Sadly not Richard. Otherwise, I would have called you.

  • I do miss venison ever since I moved from Scotland to Adelaide/Australia. And by the time I visit in March the season will surely be over. Sigh. I will have to live vicariously through your delicious posts.

    • Hi Rachel, Kind words indeed. Maybe they will keep some for you.

  • Here in the great state of Alabama, the deer are so numerous that parks and local governments have to ask hunters to come and kill them to control the population. It’s a good thing that nearly every resident of this state is a hunter. That being said, I’ve surprisingly never had venison.

  • Plum with game meat – like, like! Moose is all we can manage here, no deers. I’ll remember the plums next time and the sweet potatoes. Good thinking!
    Your pictures are great. That sprig of rosemary did the trick.

  • Arrived here from Wendy’s blog Chez Chloe – beautiful photos! What are you shooting with? And like the doe/d’oh thread 🙂

    • Hi Jeanne, Thanks for stopping by. I work in the advertising business. This gives me access to two decent Canon cameras, a 400D and a 5D Mk11, and a confusion of lenses. I have lots to learn!

      • Aaaah yes, In Canon we trust 🙂 Like the shallow DoF especially in the shot of the meat in the bag getting coated. Maybe shot using one of the Canon “nifty 50” lenses? I have a Canon 50D that I adore & just acquired the 24-70mm lens which is a treasure.

  • Beautiful photos as always!

  • I used to use lots of juniper berries with venison, in the days when we often got roe deer from our butcher. A leg cooked slowly in the slow oven of the Aga is a taste forever remembered. So tender and moist, and not at all strong tasting like older venison can be.

    • I will have a post on that topic in a couple of weeks. I cooked it over 9 hours. It was awesome. Post to follow.

  • Hi Conor, looks and sounds like it was yummy. Have not been lucky enough to ‘acquire’ a bambi yet…(my other half says I have heart of stone when it comes to food!) your posts as always.

    • Thanks Grainne, Nice to get some ‘affirmative feedback’ as they say in politically correct circles, or so I hear.

  • If only I had easy access to venison! You make it look so easy.

    • It is pretty simple as long as you have good venison. Anything else and it is a hard job to do anything with it.

  • Delicious looking stew. Venison is something folks either love or hate and you can put me into the venison loving basket! As for plums, I’ve never tried with a meat stew but I can see the gorgeous colouring deepening and looking rich and meatier for autumn.

    • Thanks Alice, I have another venison post coming soon.

  • Beautiful dish. And I second stefangourmet up there… that bone was a beauty. You can always throw it in the freezer for another time. Or give it to a/the pooch in your life. wendy

    • Good thinking on the freezing. The truth is I did not think of it. I will the next time.

  • Having recently been chased and headbutted by a deer, I am on the lookout for revenge recipes, this looks nice.

  • I’ve never tried such combo- sweet potatoes and plums, sounds interesting! Unfortunately, venison isn’t sold here.. 🙁 Any suggestions about meat? May be veal or beef? Or it won’t work?

    • Neither would work, I’m afraid. However, pork could be excellent.

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