The lamb shank has become the popular restaurant and gastropub cut of meat over the past decade. It's the perfect cut for braising and you also have that good-looking bone for presentation. The shank from the venison is also starting to make an appearance in shops specialising in game and it's a good example of how to make good use of the whole beast, instead of offering just the haunch and saddle. If you can't find or pre-order a venison shank, then a braising steak cut from the leg will do. Good game dealers include Ben Weatherall from Blackface ( www.blackface.co.uk), Furness Fish and Game in Ulverston, Cumbria (01229 585037; they also operate from London's Borough Market), Sway Butchers in Lymington (01590 682302) and Allen and Co in London W1 (020-7499 5831). Cooking venison with Pedro Ximenez (a rich fortified wine from Andalusia) or sherry imparts a really nice rich and unusual flavour to the sauce. I recommend using a pressure cooker for a dish like this, as it cuts the cooking time in half, but you probably will only fit two, not four, shanks in a pressure cooker.
4 venison shanks weighing about 400g each or 4 thick venison leg steaks weighing about 250-300g each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3tbsp vegetable oil
4 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 juniper berries, finely chopped
300ml Pedro Ximenez or medium sherry
1 litre beef stock, or a good stock cube dissolved in that amount of hot water
1 small to medium celeriac, peeled and cut into rough 2-3cm chunks
Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Heat the vegetable oil in the oven in an ovenproof dish or casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. Season the venison pieces and roast them for about 35-40 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking, or until they are nicely coloured. Remove the venison and put to one side.
Reduce the oven heat to 175C/gas mark 4.
Put the casserole dish on a low heat with the butter, onions and juniper berries and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the flour, mix well, then gradually stir in the Pedro Ximenez and hot stock, stirring well to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil, add the venison, cover and return to the oven. Cook for 2 1/2-3 hours or until tender; it's difficult to put an exact cooking time on braising cuts, so check the meat after 2 hours.
Transfer the pieces of venison to a plate and keep warm. Simmer the celeriac in the sauce on a low heat for 8-10 minutes until tender, then remove them from the sauce with a slotted spoon. Continue simmering the sauce until it's thickened then return the venison pieces and celeriac and gently reheat to serve.Reuse content