Deer, blood, chocolate and Kagor in a stew.

November 23rd, 2013Russian Revels

Stews are never sexy food, they say. Warming and hearty is rarely what we hanker after when in search of more exquisite pleasures, be it food or well, else. But add in muscular and less than expected flavours, and you might just uncover that something that takes a humble fare into something alltogether darker…

[Forage |] damson and chocolate sauce

‘Forage’ damson and chocolate sauce.

Take the meat of a deer that has until recently run wild in mossy woods. Add chestnuts, chocolate, little chilli, ermm, cardamom, perhaps a bit of spicy black pudding to reminisce of bloody stews long enjoyed by hunters fresh from a chase. Pour in sweet Moldovan Kagor wine, so much loved by Soviet intelligentsia ,and let the thing do what it has it inevitably has to do for a an hour or so, whilst you slice thinly say turnips and boil up some noddles – buckwheat, why not, we go eastwards today. And there, you have the dark, the complex, the so much more desired stew of late autumn. Candles and flushed company will help. They always do.

Venison and Kagor stew with damson and choc sauce.

Venison and Kagor stew with damson and choc sauce.

Venison, chestnuts and chocolate stew with Kagor gravy.

What you will need:

  • oil/butter for frying
  • 500 gr venison, cubed
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 pack of vacuumed chestnuts, chopped
  • thyme
  • handful of mushrooms with soaking liquid retained (optional)
  • a few slices of black pudding (I like using Trealy Farm's )
  • 250 ml Kagor (sweet Moldovan wine, but you can use any)
  • enough hot water
  • 2-3 tbs Forage damson, choc sauce with chilli and cardamom (otherwise experiment with adding very dark choc, and the spices separately)

What to do

  1. Turn the oven to 180C
  2. Brown the meat, in batches if necessary, in oil and butter, put aside
  3. Add more fat, sweat onions until translucent, add mushroom, thyme, mushrooms if using, another 5 mins or so
  4. Add the meat in, black pudding, Kagor and enough hot water to just about cover the stew
  5. Season and put into your oven for 45-60 until the meat is really soft and liquid has thickened
  6. Once out, add in the choc sauce
  7. Really lovely to serve with something cold and crunchy like pickled turnips and buckwheat noddles (Soba)