Swedish Venison Casserole with Wild Mushrooms and Lingonberries or Rengryta has a beautifully earthy sweetness with a rich velvety sauce and good deal of umami flavour. This delicious and comforting dish is often served in the festive period in Scandinavia.
Endless forests and a varied landscape are home to numerous game such as elk and deer in Scandinavia. This is why it’s a popular choice on restaurant menus in the winter months. However it’s widely cooked at home, from casseroles to roasting joints.
Eating seasonally is a great way to support sustainable food production, so what better time to dive into the health benefits of venison than when this meat is at its best. It’s most commonly available from the beginning of November to the end of March.
Venison is lower in saturated fat than other red meats. It makes a great seasonal swap for red meats like beef, which helps to reduce your saturated fat intake. It’s also a fantastic source of haem iron, this type of iron is generally absorbed very efficiently by our bodies. Venison is also one of the top sources of zinc after oysters, with 100g of venison providing roughly 32% of average daily intake requirement.
This is a classic Swedish recipe for venison casserole, updated. I’ve added dried wild mushrooms for extra flavour and umami. Nothing is more perfect to serve in the winter holiday season than a casserole. Comforting, herby, scents wafting through the house as it simmers its way to tenderness is pure heaven.
Venison Casserole with Wild Mushrooms and Lingonberries
- 800 g diced venison leg or shoulder
- 1 onion large, finely chopped
- 5 juniper berries
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 Sprigs fresh thyme
- 2-3 Tbls butter
- 300 g chestnut mushrooms halved
- 15 g dried wild fungus
- 150 ml boiling water
- 1 ½ Tbls flour
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- 500 ml beef stock
- 125 ml whipping cream
- 12 shallots small
- 3 Tbls Lingonberries, frozen defrosted. If lingonberries are unavailable use cranberries but cook with a little sugar.
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- Firstly take the dried wild fungus and place into a bowl and pour over 150ml of boiling water. Set to one side.
- Heat a heavy based pan with 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil and a knob of butter and set to a high. Seasoning the meat with salt and pepper, brown the venison in batches. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Now add the chopped onion to the unwashed pan: you want all the flavour from the venison, perhaps add a little more oil. Sauté until soft and translucent, add the chestnut mushrooms and sauté for a further 5 minutes. Add the flour, stir and cook for several minutes then add the tomato puree. Now add the beef stock in 3 additions, letting it come back to a simmer between each addition. Finally strain the liquor from the fungus through a fine sieve, (it can be gritty). Pour the liquor into the pan, the fungus will be added later. Add the cream, bay leaf, juniper berries and 1 sprig of thyme and simmer gently for 45-90 minutes or until the meat is tender.
- Meanwhile, blanch the shallots in boiling water for 15 seconds. Drain and cool under running water, then peel. Pop the shallots into a frying pan, brown with a little oil and butter, then add to casserole 15 minutes before the end of cooking with the fungus.
- Finally defrost the lingonberries, add the caster sugar and stir, leave to steep for an hour.
- Serve with creamy mashed potato and the lingonberries with some fresh thyme.
- If you’re unable to get hold of lingonberries (available from online sellers) you can add a small amount of the jam, (this is more widely available). Failing that, cranberries are a close relative to lingon. Cook with sugar and a little water.