Venison & beluga lentils recipe

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Soup frequently gets under-sold as a cheap convenience food. Of course, it clearly can be, and many of the recipes in this book will challenge even toast for that coveted high-satisfaction-to-low-effort ratio. But sometimes you want a bit more: the (eponymously) literal caviar of the pulse clan; a deer that you’d like to imagine has spent its days trotting happily through a leafy royal park; a full-bodied red wine of a good vintage; plump, tangy cherries to add a crucial final bite of sweetness; and a carefree hour of tranquil, stove-top bubbling.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 10½oz (300 g) diced venison shoulder
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓oz (10 g) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 juniper berries, roughly crushed with the side of a knife
  • generous ¾ cup (200 ml) full-bodied, fruity red wine
  • 5 cups(1.2 litres) good-quality beef stock
  • 1 bushy sprig of rosemary, needles picked and finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup (200 g) cooked beluga lentils (from a can or pouch, or cooked from dried)
  • ⅔ cup (100 g) dried cherries
  • 2 cups (60 g) shredded cavolo nero or kale
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
  1. Heat ½ Tbsp of the oil in a large saucepan set over very high heat and fry half the venison until browned all over. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, then add ½ Tbsp more oil and the remaining venison and repeat, then set the meat aside on a plate.
  2. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil to the saucepan, turn the heat down to low and add the onions, balsamic vinegar and a good pinch of salt. Cook for a good 25 minutes or so until the onions are caramelizing and going sticky.
  3. Meanwhile, cover the porcini with about 100 ml [⅓ cup] hot water and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms over a jug, retaining the liquid, and roughly chop them.
  4. Add the garlic and crushed juniper berries to the onions and cook for another 3 minutes or so, then add the wine and cook until it has reduced and there’s only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left in the pan. Add the porcini soaking water, pouring it in slowly and discarding any gritty looking liquid at the bottom of the jug. Again, cook until the liquid has reduced right down.
  5. Add the stock to the pan, along with the rosemary, bay leaf, chopped porcini and the browned venison. Put the lid on and simmer for at least 1 hour over a low heat, or until the meat is very tender.
  6. Add the lentils, cherries and cavolo nero to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes to warm them all through. Taste for seasoning and add to your liking it will probably need a fair bit then ladle into warmed bowls to serve.

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