Venison Sausage Casserole with Lentils

This is a dish that fits a number of different occasions.  I’d happily serve this up on a weeknight or at a kitchen supper for friends.  It’s special because it uses venison with its deep earthy flavours sweetened with port and red currant jelly yet it is undemanding as it does to its own thing as a one pot wonder when you are rushed for time.

Venison is a wonderful meat and, in sausage form, not expensive. You want to allow at least two sausages per person depending on how fat the sausages are. The ones I used were really plump ones from a butcher but you can get them in slightly skinnier form from most supermarkets –   either way they are delicious

The lentils,  carrots and shallots add to the autumnal flavours as do the aromatic herbs and the spicy gin notes of the juniper berries.  The port and stock that form the sauce round of the dish and make it feel very indulgent and special    This is a dish that packs in maximum flavour for minimum effort!

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 Venison sausages
  • 1/2 pkt  (77g) smoked pancetta
  • 8 banana shallots, peeled and cut in half or 4 small onions, quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 200g puy or green lentils
  • salt and pepper
  • 300ml port
  • 1 pint of fresh stock, vegetable or chicken
  • 3 tsp of redcurrant jelly
  • small bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish or lidded frying pan.  Add sausages and brown all over. Remove from the pan
  2. Put pancettain same panand fry for a minute until fat begins to render
  3. Add the shallots, carrots and garlic and fry for a further 5 minutes until the pancetta is golden and getting crisp and vegetable are softening and getting some colour
  4. Add chilli flakes, herbs and juniper berries and cook for a minute then add the tomato purée
  5. Pour in the lentils and stir until lentils are  covered in the oily juices.  Add port and stock and bring to the boil.  Season to taste.
  6. Turn down till simmering and then add the sausages and cover
  7. Simmer for a further 30 minutes until the lentils have soaked up most of the stock and made a rich sauce.
  8. Adjust seasoning to taste.and stir in the redcurrant jelly and parsley and serve on deep plates or bowls so as to capture all the delicious sauce.

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