Venison olives

Venison olives


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About this recipe: Olive is the traditional term for a small roll of meat filled with stuffing. For this special-occasion casserole thin slices of tender lean venison are rolled round a fresh-tasting cranberry stuffing and cooked in a red wine sauce.

Norma MacMillan

Serves: 4 

  • 550 g (1¼ lb) boneless leg of venison, cut into 4 thin slices
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 4 cloves
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) beef stock, preferably home-made (see page 25)
  • 360 ml (12 fl oz) red wine
  • 55 g (2 oz) cranberries, thawed if frozen, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • leaves of fresh thyme to garnish
  • Cranberry stuffing
  • 30 g (1 oz) cranberries, thawed if frozen
  • 45 g (1½ oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 30 g (1 oz) carrot, finely grated
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Prep:20min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:1hr20min 

  1. First make the stuffing. Mix the cranberries with the breadcrumbs, orange zest, carrot, thyme and orange juice until thoroughly combined.
  2. Place each slice of venison in turn between 2 sheets of cling film and use a rolling pin to bat them out until they are thin. Lay a slice of venison on a board and place a quarter of the stuffing in the centre. Flatten the stuffing slightly, leaving a border all around it, then fold the sides of the meat over it. Roll up the meat to enclose the stuffing in a neat package. Secure with a wooden cocktail stick. Repeat with the remaining venison slices and stuffing.
  3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Add the venison olives and cook for about 6 minutes, rolling them occasionally so that they brown evenly. Meanwhile, place the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, juniper berries and cloves in a small square of muslin or fine cotton fabric and tie up into a bouquet garni. Add to the casserole together with the stock, wine, cranberries, carrot, onion and garlic. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the venison is very tender.
  4. Discard the bouquet garni. Use a draining spoon to transfer the venison olives to a warm serving dish. Cover and keep warm. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a blender and add a ladleful of the cooking liquid, then purée until smooth. Boil the remaining cooking liquid over high heat for 2–3 minutes or until reduced slightly. Return the puréed vegetables to the pan, stir and reheat.
  5. Remove the cocktail sticks from the venison olives, then slice them and arrange on warmed plates with some of the sauce. Offer the remaining sauce separately. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve.

Some more ideas

Small venison steaks are also ideal for making olives. Alternatively, lean slices of beef topside can be used instead of the venison. * Mushrooms make a delicious replacement for cranberries in the stuffing, especially if the olives are served with a garlic-flavoured sauce. Make the stuffing with 45 g (1½ oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs, 100 g (3½ oz) chopped brown cap mushrooms, 1 tbsp chopped shallot, 1 chopped garlic clove and 1 tbsp chopped parsley. Pound the ingredients with a spoon so that they bind together. Omit the bouquet garni and instead add the peeled cloves from 1 large head of garlic. By the time the venison olives are tender, the garlic will be soft and mellowed in flavour. Purée the garlic with the vegetables as in the main recipe.

Plus points

Cranberries are rich in vitamin C. They also contain a natural antibiotic that prevents the bacteria which cause cystitis from sticking to the walls of the bladder. * Venison is a good choice for rich casseroles as it has a lot of flavour with very little fat compared to red meat or chicken.

Each serving provides

A, iron, phosphorus, potassium * B2, C, E, copper, zinc

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