Venison neck, cider and carrots with wild garlic

ONE FOR THE POT

ONE FOR THE POT - Credit: Archant

Tim Maddam’s venison neck recipe is a cider-braised sensation fit for a dinner party... stop discarding those necks or feeding them to the dog, use them for this instead!

ONE FOR THE POT

ONE FOR THE POT - Credit: Archant

So often, venison neck is overlooked. When I’m teaching venison cookery courses at Vale House Kitchen I am often surprised by how many people just seem to ‘give it to the dog’. Let me assure you right from the off that by the end of the day those people will no longer be doling this meat out to their canine friends. Sorry dogs, but the bubble has burst.

Of course, if the beast has been neck-shot then the dog may be in with a chance after all, but for those occasions when a head or engine-room shot are the only choice, this recipe is a must.

I love to eat this fresh, straight from the pot with baked potatoes or freshly baked bread. If, however, you can wait until it’s cool, it makes an excellent pie filling, under a shortcrust lid.

Venison neck, cider and carrots with wild garlic

Serves 6

Preparation time: 10 mins

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Cooking time: 3 hours, or more

Ingredients:

? 1 roe venison neck, well cleaned and trimmed

? 6 good-sized carrots, peeled and sliced in half lengthways

? 1 sprig of thyme, roughly chopped

? 1 sprig of rosemary, roughly chopped

? 3 fresh bay leaves, roughly chopped

? 1 star anise

? 200g pork skin or bacon skin

? salt and pepper

? 2 litres of good local cider (ideally still, but a bit of the fizzy stuff won’t hurt)

? 75g butter

? A good handful of wild garlic leaves, washed well

METHOD

This is a very easy recipe. You can either cook the neck whole and simply pull off the meat once it’s tender and falling off the bone, or you can cut the neck into neck chops with a cleaver before cooking. Either way this is a walk in the park and one of those dishes that seems to give you back so much more than you put in.

1. Preheat the oven to 120°C.

2. In a casserole dish large enough to fit everything in with as little leftover space as is practical, melt the butter over a moderate heat. Season the venison neck well and begin to brown it off. Once a nice colour has been achieved, add the carrots to the pot.

3. Add the roughly chopped herbs – this is a rustic dish and there is no need to faff about slicing and dicing finely.

4. Add the star anise, then as much cider as you can get in the pot – if the meat isn’t quite covered simply top up with a little water. Season and bring to a simmer. Add the pork skin or bacon skin – this can be left out, but it’s nicer with it in – pop the lid on and place the dish in the oven (or transfer to a slow cooker) and cook for a minimum of 3 hours, but preferably longer.

5. Once the meat is so tender it can easily be pulled from the bones, remove the dish from the oven and strain off the majority of the remaining liquid. Reduce this in a separate pan on a high heat to intensify the flavour.

6. Pick the meat from the bones and set to one side with the carrots. Chop the wild garlic and drop it into the sauce with a knob of butter, then season. Pour the now well-seasoned, rich sauce back over the top of the meat and carrots and serve at once, ideally with a piece of good, fresh, just-baked bread. Enjoy!