I haven’t posted a picture of the stew here because the photo I took, in these darkening evenings, just did not do the stew any justice. When I made these pickled walnuts I imagined I would be enjoying them with cold cuts and cheese. I have now tried them with cheese and I can report they are OK. Actually, they are hard to describe. They don’t taste particularly walnuty. They taste like something that has been pickled. When I was eating them with cheese, a friend that was with us at the time suggested putting them in a beef stew. That sounded like a fine idea. Now that I have tried the stew I can report that they do add a lovely sweet tang to the gravy. They are, however, still a bit weird to eat. The exterior of the walnut has a grainy texture and the interior is soft. It’s just a bit odd. I do think though that I will be putting them in more stews if only so that they can infuse the gravy and I will be chopping them up a little smaller next time, quartering instead of halving.
It doesn’t need to be venison in this stew, you can use beef with equally good effect. I spotted the venison at the butchers and fancied a change.
This stew serves 3 adults generously.
450-500g venison or stewing/ braising beef, diced
1 large onion, chopped small
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 celery sticks (if you have them), chopped finely
300 ml beef stock
200ml Guinness or stout
6-8 pickled walnuts, quartered
100g cooked chestnuts (I use vacuum packed for ease)
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs thyme
pepper and salt
Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil ( or use beef dripping) into a large saucepan. Place over a medium-high heat and brown the meat in batches. You want the meat to get a good caramelisation so try not to move the meat around too much, just turn once. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the onion, carrots and the celery, if using, to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes until the onions have become translucent and taken on a little colour. Return the meat to the pan, along with any juices on the plate. Add the stock and the stout and stir well to lift any of the lovely caramel bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the walnuts, chestnuts, bay leaf, thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Place the saucepan into the simmering oven of the Aga or put the stew into a slow cooker and cook gently for a minimum of three hours.