Venison and apricot savory pie

This recipe is inspired by a lunchtime meal I had at a pub in England, on the edge of Dartmoor. It was a typically cold and rainy British day, and when I sat down to eat this pie, it warmed my soul. This recipe takes a long time, but it’s worth it in the end – everything will reduce to a beautifully hearty, tangy stew. Adapted from several websites, including Country Skill Blog, Jamie Oliver, and Cook Sister.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs stewing venison, cut into chunks
  • 1 bottle of not-too-fancy red wine
  • 2 T brandy
  • bouquet garni consisting of bay leaf, thyme, and parsley
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 100 g streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into cubes
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 cups beef stock
  • a few T all purpose flour
  • large handful of dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • a few T olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Inspect the venison – make sure it does not have any grisly bits or deer hairs.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the venison with brandy, bouquet garni, 1 T olive oil, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
  3. Add red wine until the meat is fully covered. Let sit for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.
  4. Once the meat is done marinading, drain the meat in a colander, reserving the liquid.
  5. Pat the meat dry and coat with flour.
  6. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  7. In a large pan, fry off the bacon over medium heat until it starts to brown, and produces a pool of bacon fat. Remove the bacon slices, place them on a paper towel, and set aside.
  8. Transfer the bacon fat into a dutch oven, and heat over medium high heat. When the fat is hot, add the venison and sear until the sides are nice and brown. (Note: you just want to sear the outside of the meat here, not cook it all the way.) When the venison is done browning, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel, then set aside.
  9. In the same dutch oven, combine the onions, carrot, and garlic, and cook for 8-10 minutes, until softened and golden brown.
  10. Deglaze the dutch oven with the marinade, then add in the venison, beef stock, bouquet garni, and apricots. The meat and vegetables should be fully covered – if they are not, add more beef stock. (Optionally, you can also add chunks of the cooked bacon, if you want an even more decadent stew.)
  11. Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven. Cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t catch, until the meat is tender.
  12. The stew is done cooking when the meat starts falling to pieces, and is floating in a rich, dark, thick stew. If the stew is still liquidy when you remove it from the oven, uncover the stew and continue cooking until you have your desired consistency.)
  13. Serve warm, with potatoes and crusty bread.

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