Venison with Port, Guinness and Pickled Walnuts – Delia Christmas

Venison CasseroleI’ll be honest this casserole really doesn’t look appetising in the above photo, it looks better    in reality but it’s one of those hearty dishes rather than fine presentation. My copy of Delia Smith’s Christmas is well worn now as there are some dishes I make regularly from it, but I’d never tried this before.

One of my guilty trashy tv pleasures is ‘Come Dine with Me’, I tend to dip in and out rather than watch a whole episode and I don’t like the celebrity versions but I realised this had Mrs Moneypenny the FT columnist on it ( I loved her columns in the FT and read them regularly from when she worked in Japan, Mrs Moneypenny: E-mail from Tokyo through to her setting up her own company so I couldn’t resist watching. She made this casserole for her guests all of whom were very skeptical before they tried it but liked it when they tried it. I decided this would be a good Christmas eve option. I had my SIL Rachel, her family and my FIL as well as the four of us and I didn’t want to spend ages in the kitchen before dishing up dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t pre-read the full recipe so didn’t notice it start with ‘Begin this the night before’, this meant my meat had minimal marinading time. However it was still lovely and I would make it again.Next time I think I’d reduce the quantity of pickled walnuts and I would marinade. I served this with creamed celeriac and red cabbage as I had plenty of both of these prepared for the next day.

Quantities below serve 10 – 12 people as Delia recommends this for a party.


  • 2.75kg diced Vension
  • 1.2 litres Guinness
  • 275ml Port
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 225g chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 x 400g jars pickled walnuts
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper


  1. The night before, place the meat in a large bowl along with the bay leaf and thyme, then pour the guinness and port over it. Put a plate on top to keep the meat pushed down and leave in a cool place overnight.
  2. Next day, when you are ready to cook the meat, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). Then melt half the butter and oil in the casserole and heat gently. Drain the meat (reserving the liquid and herbs) and pat the steaks dry with kitchen paper. Now turn the heat to high and brown the meat (in two batches) to a rich brown on both sides. Now add the rest of the butter and oil to the casserole. As soon as it begins to foam, add the onion and brown this for about 8 minutes before adding the garlic and frying for another 2 minutes.
  3. Now return all the meat into the casserole to join the onions. Stir in the flour to soak up the juices, then pour in the marinade (including the bay leaf and thyme), add the walnuts and season well. As soon as it reaches a gentle simmer, put a lid on, then transfer the casserole to the middle shelf of the oven and forget all about it for 3 hours, by which time the meat will be tender and the sauce marvellously dark and rich.

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