This slow cooker venison stew is a real winter warmer.
Full of the flavours of smoked bacon, shallots, garlic and red wine, the melt in the mouth venison make a delicious meal that is perfect for a celebration or get together with friends.
The slow cooker does the hard work, so you can sit back and enjoy the gorgeous aromas coming from the kitchen.
Game and venison tend to be very lean meats, as they are mostly wild and free range, which makes them a healthy choice. Many supermarkets and butchers stock game when it's in season, but it's normally also available frozen all year round online too.
Venison is very much like beef to cook in a casserole, so it goes beautifully with bacon and red wine flavours.
As it's a wild meat, or raised where they are free to roam, the meat takes on the flavours of the foods eaten by the deer, such as berries and leaves. This means that the meat is rich and sweet too.
Slow cooking is brilliant for saving energy costs, but it also means that you can put this meal in the slow cooker and forget about it. Of course, you also know that the meat will be meltingly tender too.
❤️ Why you will love this recipe
- Made in the slow cooker to save money.
- Easy to vary the ingredients.
- Rich, delicious and perfect for a special meal.
- Simple recipe with easy instructions.
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- Venison - venison stewing steak, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces. It's really easy to get venison online, either fresh or frozen, and many supermarkets sell it too.
- Juniper - juniper berries. Find these in the spice section.
- Bacon - smoked bacon lardons. Essentially these are cubes of streaky smoked bacon. They add a smokey sweet flavour to the stew.
- Wine - use a red wine that you would drink with a meal. Try something light and fruity like a Burgundy.
- Shallots - I've used the small round shallots because they look more appealing leaft whole in the stew.
- Bay leaves - dried bay leaves. Don't be tempted to use them fresh from the bush as fresh leavescan be overpowering. Use dried leaves.
- Garlic - garlic cloves rather than powder.
- Oil - vegetable or plain olive oil fro frying.
- Flour - plain or all purpose flour to thicken the gravy.
- Stock - beef stock from a cube or concentrate such as Bovril.
- Salt - flaked sea salt.
- Pepper - freshly ground black pepper.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post.
- 3.5 litre /5.3 pint capacity slow cooker
- chopping board
- sharp knife
- large skillet or frying pan
- slotted spoon
- wooden spoon
💭 Top Tip -Slow cooker Dos and Don'ts
- Preheat the slow cooker while you are preparing the ingredients.
- Vegetables can take a long time to cook in a slow cooker, so always place large pieces at the bottom. A slow cooker with a larger capacity cooks vegetables more evenly.
- Make sure that there is at least 2 centimetres of space in the bowl when it is full.
- Do not remove the lid in the first half of the cooking time, as valuable heat will be lost and cooking time will need to be extended.
- All stock should be boiling when added at the beginning of cooking.
- Slow cookers may need more or less time, so make sure that the meat is tender before serving.
- It's not a problem if the venison stew is left to cook for a few extra hours.
Cut the venison into bite sized pieces and trim off any obvious sinewy pieces.
Lightly crush the juniper berries with the back of a knife.
This helps them to release their flavours in the cooking process.
Peel the shallots and garlic and chop the garlic into small pieces.
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the lardons and shallots.
Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the bacon is pale pink and onions have a slight colour.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
Use a slotted spoon to add the mixture to the slow cooker.
Sprinkle the venison with salt and pepper and sear the meat on all sides.
💭 Top Tip
- It's easier to sear the meat in batches without crowding the pan. . This ensures that the meat is nicely caramelised rather than steamed.
- Put the meat in the pan and leave for a few minutes. Use tongs to turn the pieces over.
- Transfer the seared meat to a plate with a slotted spoon, then continue to cook the next batch of meat. Add more oil if required.
When all the venison has been seared, return it to the pan over a medium heat.
Sprinkle over the flour and stir for a minute to coat the meat.
The flour should mop up the juices in the pan.
Add the red wine and beef concentrate, juniper berries and bay leaf.
Bring to a simmer.
Transfer the venison mix to the slow cooker.
⏲️Slow Cooking Time
Cook on HIGH for 4 - 5 hours, or LOW for 7 - 10 hours.
Check the seasoning before serving.
🥗 Serve with
Try this slow cooker venison stew wth mash, bread or some of these side dish ideas.
- Honey Roast Chantenay Carrots
- Leeks in White Sauce
- Honey Roast Carrots and Parsnips
- Fried Cabbage with Bacon
- Roast Savoy Cabbage
- Whole Baked Cauliflower Cheese
- Roasted Green Beans and Carrots
- Roasted Long Stem Broccoli
- Roasted Swede Chips
- Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Shallots - use brown onions and cut into wedges
- Wine - use the same amount of stock instead.
- Mushrooms - brown some button or quartered mushrooms with the shallots.
- Meat - use stewing beef or lamb for a change.
- Refrigerator - store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer - cool and pack into a container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat - Place in a covered casserole dish in the oven at 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4 for 20 to 30 minutes until piping hot. Alternatively place in the slow cooker.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Many slow cooked meat stews actually taste better the day after, when the flavours have had time to mature, so you may wish to make the slow cooker venison stew the day before you plan on serving it
If you prefer, you can add all the ingredients to the slow cooker without any precooking. This is useful if you don't have much time.
However, the cooking time will be much longer and should be cooked on high.
The meat is seared doe added flavour and to improve the appearance of the meat. Without searing the meat it will have an unappetising grey colour.
If you ever wondered if searing beef makes it more tender, it's more about the taste. It's not about locking juices in or making it tender as the cooking process will take care of that.
The main purpose of searing protein, such as beef, over a high heat with only a little oil, is to produce the Maillard effect. This is the chemical reaction that occurs between the proteins, or amino acids in meat and fish and the natural sugars. This is what gives the meat, colour, flavour and makes it irresistable!
Juniper berries are actually seeds cones from certain varieties of juniper shrubs. They are used for culinary purposes when they are a deep purple colour at around 18 months of age, however, they do lose their pungency quite quickly, so should be used quickly.
Traditionally, they have been used with poultry, game birds and venison, like these recipes for chicken thighs with juniper berries and roast partridge.
They are slightly sweet and fragrant with a warm flavour, when used in cooking.
They are particularly famous for flavouring gin!
More slow cooker recipes
- Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole
- Slow Cooker Beef and Ale Stew
- Slow Cooker Christmas Pudding
- Slow Cooker Brisket and Gravy
- Slow Cooker Beef Cheeks
- Slow Cooker Turkey Crown
- Slow Cooker Corned Beef Hash
- Slow Cooker Chocolate Rice Pudding
Slow Cooker Venison Stew
- 3.5 litre /5.3 pint capacity slow cooker
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- large skillet or frying pan
- Slotted spoon
- Wooden spoon
- 500 g venison
- 8 juniper berries
- 155 g smoked lardons
- 300 ml red wine
- 12 shallots
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 1 beef stock cube
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Cut the venison into bite sized pieces and trim off any obvious sinewy pieces.
- Lightly crush the juniper berries with the back of a knife.
- Peel the shallots and garlic and chop the garlic into small pieces.
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the lardons and shallots.
- Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the bacon is pale pink and onions have a slight colour.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
- Use a slotted spoon to add the mixture to the slow cooker.
- Sprinkle the venison with salt and pepper and sear the meat on all sides.
- When all the venison has been seared, return it to the pan over a medium heat.
- Sprinkle over the flour and stir for a minute to coat the meat and mop up the juices in the pan.
- Add the red wine and beef concentrate, juniper berries and bay leaf.
- Bring to a simmer.
- Transfer the venison mix to the slow cooker.
- Cook on HIGH for 4 - 5 hours, or LOW for 7 - 10 hours.
- Check the seasoning before serving.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article
More slow cooker recipes to try
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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