It might be April, but it's flipping chilly still.
Facebook keeps showing me things I was doing last year and by now it was all barbecues and family days out in our t-shirts. And here I am, curling up in my cosy socks and a roll-neck jumper.
And all this makes me still feel like old fashioned comfort food. Stews, curries, soups.
I've not cooked very much with venison, but it's a good meat to add to your diet, especially as we tend to think that variety in the diet is a good idea. Venison is a great source of protein, iron and B vitamins. It's rich, so it feels like a treat - and although this recipe is a stew, it's super easy to put together. You just marinate the meat in the other ingredients overnight and then when you're ready to cook, just tip it all out into a saucepan, add some stock and carrots and bubble away, with a lid on.
AIP readers, if you haven't reintroduced your berry spices (juniper), you can make this exactly as per the instructions, but just leave out the juniper berries. You could also add some fresh thyme sprigs to the marinade if you like.
And if you'd like to thicken the sauce, just whisk in a teaspoon of tapioca flour in at the end, or just mix it with a tablespoon of cold water and pour it in to blend more easily.
Venison and Carrot Stew with Red Wine and Juniper
Serves 4, with sweet potato mash and greens
500g pack of diced venison
1 whole bulb garlic, separated into individual cloves
1 wine glass red wine
15 dried juniper berries
2 bay leaves
a mugful of beef broth or stock
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
freshly chopped parsley, to serve
The day before you want to cook the venison, empty it into a large bowl. Gently crush the garlic cloves still in their skins and add them to the venison, along with the wine, juniper berries and bay leaves. Cover and store in the fridge for 12 hours, or overnight.
The next day, take the venison out of the fridge and pour it, along with its marinade and the beef stock - into a large saucepan or frying pan with a lid. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to cook for half an hour. Add the carrots to the stew and continue to simmer for another half an hour to forty minutes until the venison is tender and the carrots are cooked.
Season with a pinch of salt, if needed, and scatter with freshly chopped parsley.
Serve straight away - this is really good with fluffy sweet potato mash. As you dish up, discard the bay leaves and pick out the juniper berries, which will have given a sweet, aromatic flavour to the stew. You can serve the garlic cloves up alongside - they'll be soft and melty.
The venison for this recipe was supplied to me by Farmers Choice - I've been really pleased with the quality of their meats, fish and game. Check out their full range on their website.