To continue with my scottish menu I have chosen this gorgeous dish which has been adapted from a Thomasina Miers recipe and is guaranteed to melt any heart along with the chocolate that goes in it.  There are a lot of ingredients but that doesn't mean it's difficult to put together.  Juniper berries are always good with venison and there is just enough chocolate to give it an earthy richness without it tasting like chocolate sauce.

Once you've marinated the meat it is more or less a case of slow cooking and it can be made a couple of days in advance to make your life even easier.  There's nothing like bung it in the oven cooking.   We went out for a bracing and invigorating walk then came back to this hearty warming stew - proper comfort food.  This should serve 4 people.

1/2 Bottle Red Wine
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed
1 Sprig Rosemary
2 Sprigs of Thyme
1 Red Chili Deseeded and finely chopped  
5 Juniper Berries Crushed
1 tbsp Olive Oil

700g Venison
1 Onion Chopped
1 Carrot Diced
1 Parsnip Diced
2 Celery Stalks finely Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves
Pinch of Dried Chillies
300ml Stock
1/2 Bottle Red Wine
1 tbsp Redcurrant Jelly
50g Chocolate in small pieces

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and add the meat.  Leave it over night if you can or as long as possible.

Next remove the venison from the marinade but reserve the marinade for later.  In a casserole, brown all the meat in a little oil and put to one side.  Next soften your onions,  when they become translucent add the carrot, parsnip and celery.  Cook for a further 10 minutes allowing them to brown.  Lastly add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Now return the meat to the casserole along with the reserved marinade.  Bring everything to the boil and once it's bubbling turn off the heat, add the redcurrant and chocolate and stir till melted.  Put the whole casserole in the oven at 190C for 1 1/2 hours.  That wasn't complicated was it.


Even my children don't mind eating cabbage when it's done like this.  While you're boiling 250g Spuds, blanch 4 leaves from a Medium Savoy Cabbage.  You don't want the first outside leaves but the next ones in.  Blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes then immediately put them into cold water to stop them cooking further.  Finely shred the remaining cabbage and saute in a little Butter till tender.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash them along with 40g of Cheddar.  Stir in your shredded cabbage and season with Salt and White Pepper.

Now divide the potato between the cabbage leaves and gather each leaf to form a parcel.  To help them keep their shape, I have rested them in a deep muffin tray ready for the oven.  Sprinkle over a little more cheese and cook at 190C for 10-15 minutes till the cheese is bubbling and brown.

Stay tuned for the pudding! x