Venison (or Beef) Under a Blanket

If you fancy having a Burn’s Night Supper but don’t like the idea of haggis why not try this recipe. Given to me a couple of years ago by a friend it has become a firm favourite. Although it is a bit fiddly I tend to make up the “stew” in bulk and freeze it. A lovely “comfort food” dish with celeriac. One of our favourite veg. This recipe is very filling and does not need an accompaniment.

Ingredients - serves 6

2½lb (1.1kg) stewing beef or venison cut into large chunks  
For the marinade:- For the stew:-
12 fl oz (350ml) red wine 4oz (125g) butter
1 onion , thickly sliced 6oz (175g) rasher streaky bacon, de-rinded and cut into strips
2 fresh bay leaves 2 medium onions, chopped
large sprig of thyme 2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 juniper berries, crushed 8oz (225g) celeriac, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoon Madeira 8oz (225g) carrots, cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil 2 level tablespoons plain flour, plus a little for dusting
Salt and freshly ground black pepper ¾ pint (450ml) beef stock
For the blanket:- 1½lb (700g) trimmed leeks, thinly sliced
Approx 2½lb (1kg) ready-made puff pastry  
Roughly crushed black pepper to garnish  
1 large egg, beaten  


  1. Place the meat in a large plastic food bag with all the marinade ingredients. Squeeze out the excess air, then firmly seal using a freezer tie. Shake the bag well to mix together all the ingredients. Place the bag in a shallow dish and leave to marinade overnight in the fridge.
  2. Drain the meat, reserving the liquid and the bay leaves, discarding the onion and the thyme.
  3. Melt half of the butter in a flameproof casserole and fry the bacon until pale golden brown.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, celeriac and carrot and fry until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
  5. Add half the remaining butter to the casserole and brown the meat in batches. Sprinkle the flour over the browned meat and mix well. Return it to the casserole along with the bacon and vegetable.
  6. Pour the reserved marinade liquid and sufficient stock to just cover the meat and bring to the boil. Tuck in the reserved bay leaves and season.
  7. Place a double sheet of damp greaseproof paper on top of the mixture, cover with a lid and cook at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 1½ - 2 hours or until tender.
  8. Cool quickly by transferring the mixture into a large bowl and standing it in cold water.
  9. Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan, add the leeks and 4 tablesppons of water.
  10. Stir-fry over a medium heat for 4-5 mins or until just soft. Season.
  11. Roll out the pastry to ¼inch (5mm) thickness.
  12. Pour cooled mixture into a shallow 4 pint (2.3 litre) ovenproof dish and top with the leeks.
  13. Cover with the pastry, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the crushed pepper.
  14. Make a large steam hole in the centre of each pie and cook at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 for 40-45 mins.
  15. Alternatively you can divide the mixture into individual pie dishes in which case I would recommend that you cook as above for 20 mins then and then reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and cook for a further 20 mins.
  16. To freeze, complete to the end of step 6, cool pack and freeze.

Mmmmm! All this washed down with a good single malt, Coal Ila or Port Ellen (if you can find it!) preferred. Roll on the 25th January!

The Webmaster tells me that the recipe file attracted a rather large number of hits in the build up to Christmas. I hope all the users found some recipes to their liking. The recipe file also seems to have developed a fan base in South Devon from where I am getting regular feedback on lunch parties being held using some of the seasonal and traditional recipes. Oh, the wonders of the internet.