Neil Haydock’s Venison Stew Recipe

This venison stew recipe is one of my absolute favourites from the New West Country Cookbook; it was also the recipe we cooked up for our main course when we held the launch party on Watergate Beach. It cooks beautifully in the oven but is also perfect over a camp fire. It’s a really comforting and filling meal that is the perfect food for all the appalling weather we’re having here in Cornwall.

The venison stew recipe is from Neil Haydock, who has been living and working in the South West since 2005. It’s no surprise he chose a venison recipe to go into the cookbook, as his grandfather was a gamekeeper and he was raised on meats like rabbit and deer. All of the recipes he provided were really hearty meals that are perfect for this time of year. He is currently working as executive chef over at the Watergate Bay Hotel, so head over there for a meal if you want a taste of his cooking.

Venison is one of those meats that a lot of people are unsure of, but it makes a beautifully rich and flavourful stew and is really simple to cook. It’s also low in cholesterol, which means its a good substitute for beef if you have to watch that kind of thing. That said, this recipe works equally well with beef, though I do encourage you to try it with the deer!

Neil Haydock’s Venison Stew Recipe, with Potato Dumplings

Serves 6

PREP: 30 mins COOKING: 2 1⁄2 hours

For the Venison

1kg haunch of diced venison
4 carrots
peeled and diced
3 medium onions
peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
500ml beef stock
250ml red wine
2tbsp flour
plus a little more for dusting
75ml vegetable oil

For the Dumplings

3 large baking potatoes
2 egg yolks
salt and ground white pepper

For the Venison

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large ovenproof saucepan.
Add the carrots and onions and sweat for 2-3 minutes.
Add the venison and raise the heat to colour the meat lightly.
Add the red wine, stock, bay leaves and seasoning.
Stir in the flour and bring the stew to a simmer.
Place a lid on to the saucepan and place in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

For the Dumplings

Prick the potatoes with a fork and microwave until cooked. Allow them to cool slightly and peel.
Mash the potatoes in a bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the egg yolks and about a teaspoon of flour.
The mix should come together as a dry ball of potato – if it is a little wet, add another teaspoon of flour.
Divide the potato mixture into two and on a lightly-floured surface roll the potato into a sausage shape.
With a knife that has been dipped into flour, cut the potato sausage into 3cm lengths.
Repeat with the second ball of potato.
Place the dumplings on top of the venison stew.
Return to the oven, without a lid, for 10 minutes until the top of the dumplings are golden.