This Autumn, you’ll need a bowlful of something rich, earthy and gratifying. This Venison and Red Wine Sausage Casserole, is all of that and it’s ready in under an hour.
It’s Autumn, at last, and it’s the first properly cold day; the leaves are crisp underfoot, there’s a pink velvet sky and the moon is bright silver. It’s the sort of day that jolts me into remembering, that night when I get home, to dig out my hat, gloves and scarf without fail. With this cold snap, comes the slow decay of fallen leaves and dark mornings. But it’s not all bad because what comes too, is the desire to cook more slowly, to draw on spices that warm, and ingredients that soothe. We begin to wonder how the salads and stir fry dishes of the summer months ever satisfied us as we fill our bowls with luscious and robust stews, braised meats (like these pigs’ cheeks) hot pots, soups and casseroles.
As far as sausage casseroles are concerned, this a slightly more sophisticated take on the humble dish, akin, perhaps, to slipping on a cashmere jumper, pulling on merino wool socks and diving under a goose down blanket, sipping, all the while, on ruby port. It’s sophisticated, yes, but no less inviting and deeply, deliciously, comforting.
Venison sausages remain quite robust after cooking (although cook gently so as to not break their skin) and are rich and almost sweet with an earthiness that’s complemented by the mushrooms. The addition of prunes sweetens the sauce and balances the smokiness and saltiness of the bacon. While juniper berries, fruity and peppery, work as well with venison as red wine.
The recipe is made up of a smattering of internet recipes, like these from Delia and the Hairy Bikers, but is very much its own, too. It’s quick in comparison to other casseroles, taking only around an hour to cook and it’s all done on the hob. If you use eight sausages, it serves four people, if eaten in one sitting, or, use half to feed two and freeze the other half to de-frost ready for a satisfyingly steamy sit down meal post-Autumn walk, later in the month.
Serve with creamy mashed potato and mustard, or, as we did, with a smooth swede and turnip mash laced with butter and flecked with fresh cracked black pepper, washed down with a leftover glass of red.
Venison and Red Wine Sausage Casserole
Ingredients – for 2-4 people (see above)
Olive oil, a glug
Venison sausages, 8 or 750g
Smoked bacon, 200g
Juniper berries (crushed using pestle and mortar), 1/2 tbsp
Red wine, 500ml
Bay leaves, 3
Speciality mushrooms, 200g
In a casserole dish, heat a glug of olive oil and fry the sausages until brown on all sides. Once done, keep to one side in a separate dish.
Next, chop the bacon then fry in the casserole dish until crispy. Add the shallots (halved) and allow to soften for 4-5 minutes.
Return the sausages to the casserole dish. Chop the prunes and add these to the dish, too. Pour in the red wine, add the bay leaves and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
Roughly chop the mushrooms and stir into the casserole. Then, simmer for a further 15 minutes without the lid this time.
In a saucepan, on a low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour and allow to cook for a minute. Stir the roux into the casserole and allow to thicken for 5 minutes before serving.