- Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas 3. Toss the pieces of venison in the oatmeal to lightly coat, then shake to remove any excess.
- Heat the oil in a heavy flameproof casserole and quickly cook the venison until lightly coloured. Transfer to a plate. Add the chopped onions to the casserole and cook gently over a low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until softened and golden.
- Add the beer, thyme, juniper and allspice plus a little seasoning to taste, and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
- Stir in the shallots, whole baby carrots and parsnips (or baby turnips or diced swede) plus the venison and any meat juices. When the liquid comes to the boil, cover the casserole and put into the oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1¼–1½ hours until the meat is really tender.
- Towards the end of the, cut the baguette into slices about 2.5cm thick and lay on a baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes until they are lightly brown and crisp.
- When the meat is cooked, stir in the chestnuts, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Arrange the toasted bread on top of meat and vegetables and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes. Serve hot, in the casserole.
If preferred, or if venison is unavailable, use lean stewing steak or wild boar. Spread the croutons with mustard before adding to the casserole. * Use 450ml beer with 150ml beef stock.
Shallots and baby onions are easy to peel if you make a small cut in the skin at the top and then soak in boiling water for 2 minutes. * To prepare ahead, cook up to the end of step 4, then cool and store in the fridge for up to 48 hours, or freeze. Thaw, if frozen, then reheat thoroughly before adding the chestnuts and bread croÛtes.