Inspired by a classic cottage pie, this is a proper winter warmer. We’ve used layers of swede and slow cooked onions instead of mash, as they are perfectly in season with the venison. Their butteriness is a perfect foil to the lean meat; there is an option to add a little offal into the mix, which adds a dark mineral edge to things as well as being thrifty, but it isn’t essential. 



  • Turn your oven to 160⁰C/Gas 2 to preheat.

    Warm 2 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole dish and gently fry the leek, carrot and celery in a little oil for 10 minutes, until starting to soften. 

    Meanwhile, put a large frying pan on the heat with a dash of oil, season the venison with salt and pepper and fry it over a high heat until nicely browned. This is best done separately as it is hard to get a good colour on the meat when it is competing for heat and space with the onions.

    Add the browned meat to the casserole dish along with the garlic, anchovy fillets, tomato purée and vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes, until the anchovies have disintegrated, and the vinegar has mostly evaporated.

    Add the thyme, rosemary and bay along with the stout and allspice. Add enough water to just cover everything. Season well with salt and pepper, pop on a lid and transfer to the oven to slow cook for 1 hour while you prepare your swede. 

    Pop the sliced onion in a large saucepan with the butter and cook gently for 20 mins, stirring often, until soft and tender. Add a dash of water if it looks like catching or burning at any point. Remove from the heat and add the sliced swede. Season with a modest grating of nutmeg and a generous pinch of salt. Mix them together well so that slices are nicely mixed with the buttery onions.

    Take the meat out of the oven, which should be tender and thickened. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Layer the swede slices on top as flatly and evenly as you can. Pop the lid back on, return to the oven and turn the temperature up to 180⁰C/Gas 4. Bake for 30 mins, until the swede is tender to a knife tip. Remove the lid and return to the oven for 10 -15 mins until the top is lightly coloured.

    Serve with some wilted greens and peas. 

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