Braised Venison on Pumpkin


High in protein, rich in minerals, and containing 50 percent less fat than beef, venison is a healthy alternative to other red meats. Being lean, it adapts well to a slow braise. On-the-bone haunch, shoulder, and shank are the best cuts for pot-roasting, but a shin or a boneless shoulder is best for a stew. In season, Bruno and his hunting friends don’t go after local game for mere recreation; they hunt it, with an official license, for food, sharing the meat from a stag among the neighbors. 

Serves 6-8

2 cups (470 milliliters) red wine 

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil 

1 medium onion, peeled, sliced 

1 tablespoon whole juniper berries, lightly crushed

1 teaspoon ground allspice 

1 bay leaf 

Bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley 

3 1/4 pounds (1 1/2 kilograms) venison off the bone 

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 medium onions, peeled, sliced 

3 large carrots, peeled, sliced 

2 celery stalks, trimmed, chopped 

1 1/4 cups (295 milliliters) any stock 

1 bouquet garni (a bay leaf and a few sprigs each of fresh flat-leaf parsley and thyme tied in a bundle) 

Roasted Squash Slices with Sage and Walnuts (page 34) 

A 1-inch / 2-centimeter strip of peel without pith of 1 orange, finely slivered, and its juice 

1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly 

4 tablespoons (2 ounces / 50 grams) butter, chilled, cut into cube

Combine the wine, olive oil, onion, juniper berries, allspice, bay leaf, and parsley in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. When it’s cool, pour this marinade over the meat in a ceramic bowl. Leave in the fridge for 1 to 3 days, the longer the better, turning occasionally. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. 

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and bring it to room temperature. In a large casserole, heat the vegetable oil, and brown the meat all over; place it in a warm dish and set it aside. Sauté the sliced vegetables gently for 5 to 6 minutes in the casserole, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure they don’t stick. 

Lay the meat on top of the vegetables. Add the marinade and stock, and push in the bouquet garni. Cover the casserole, and roast in the oven for 2 hours, or until tender, basting occasionally. When it is cooked, remove the venison to a cutting board. Sieve the liquid into a saucepan, discarding the vegetables and bouquet garni. Thickly slice the meat, and arrange it on a warmed platter on a bed of roasted squash or pumpkin slices with sage and walnuts. 

Bring the reserved liquid to a boil in a saucepan to reduce it (see box, page 73). Add the orange juice, the peel, and redcurrant jelly, and stir to dissolve the jelly. Off the heat, add the cubed butter, whisking to incorporate each cube before adding the next. Ladle a little sauce over the venison slices,  and serve the rest in a warm jug.

Credit line: From Bruno’s Cookbook: Recipes and Traditions from a French Country Kitchen © 2023 by Walker and Watson, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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