With the blossom out on the trees, spring shoots in the garden and boxes of fresh rhubarb outside the greengrocer my thoughts turned to a great Persian recipe which is a classic and made usually with spring lamb and rhubarb.
My dear friend Chris Norcott, of Winterbourne Game gave me some diced venison at the weekend along with a Orvis branded plastic tub full of dry flies, these beautifully tied by Brian Cleverton.
Chris had an early season treat of a day on the Test, that mecca of a Hampshire chalk stream. Fishing was reported to be hard, the water at least a foot and a half higher than expected for this time of year and full of colour, even so a few trout were had that day and I hear one of their fishing companions had managed to catch a trout, sea-trout and salmon in a single day…that is what dreams are made of.
Well, back to the venison and rhubarb stew, a hearty meal with full flavours. Firstly cook down two medium-sized, finely chopped onions in some olive oil.
If using lamb dice a couple of neck fillets or leg of lamb. For this recipe I’m using venison which is much leaner. Fry the venison on a medium heat in some good olive oil until browned all over. Add a tea-spoon of turmeric, 3 cloves, freshly ground black pepper, add some barberries, mix well, then add two-thirds of a cup of water, enough to cover the meat. After 20 minutes add a good table-spoon of tomato puree. Continue to cook over a low heat for an hour and a half.
Whilst the stew is cooking, wash and soak the basmati or long grain rice, I cook a cupful of rice to two cups of water and place in a steamer and lightly salt. I use a Cusinart Rice Steamer and Tilda Basmati, it gives perfect results time and time again.
A classic Persian dish but made with venison instead of lamb, Venison and Rhubarb stew with a twist.
About 15 minutes before serving add the new season pink rhubarb, cut into inch chunks. Cook the rhubarb but don’t let it cook down into a mush.
Venison and Rhubarb Stew, from the Tales Kitchen.
Serve with a small knob of butter on the rice and a perfect red wine to serve with it is a Bordeaux, I chose a 2008 Chateau Les Arqueys from Lea & Sandeman, it had good depth and tannins, rich spice and an earthiness which compliments the dish.