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Long slow Venison "Staff Curry"


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Being a bit of a curry lover I thought I'd share this one with you. It works well with any of the "tough" cuts, and of course other meats, being originally designed for on the bone lamb/mutton/goat, so lends itself well to venison neck, shoulder, breast, hock/shin, leg, chops or anything else that would normally become burgers. Leave the meat on the bone, chopping the legs into roundel sections, leave the flat ribs on the breast etc. and cut into good-sized chunks. 

It's called staff curry, as it's not the sort of thing you'd serve to the diners in your restaurant, but the staff don't mind getting stuck into a big plate of curry and picking the meat off the bones.......

It involves a lot of whole spices as well as the powdered ones, but the base sauce can be tweaked to make your everyday lamb/chicken/pheasant/partridge curry anyway, so your initial layout will give you a cupboard full of spices ready to knock up a curry at home that's as good as any restaurant offering. 

There are lots of stages and NO short cuts......sorry!

6 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1 to 1.5 kg on the bone venison

Whole dry spices: 
2 Bay leaves
6 black pepper corns, crushed
6 cloves
1" cinnamon stick
4 green cardomum pods bruised/crushed) 
2 black cardomums
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds (Jeera)
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (curry leaves or methi) powdered by rubbing them between your palms

Whole "wet" spices:
2 medium onions diced as fine as you can or blitzed in a food processor
1 tablespoon garlic paste or a whole bulb skinned, chopped and crushed
2 teaspoons ginger paste or an inch of root ginger finely chopped
2 (or more to taste) fresh green finger chillies, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tin or tetra pack of chopped plum tomatoes, or a carton of passata

Powdered dry spices:
2 teaspoons coriander powder (dhaniya)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (to taste, but go steady, there's already some heat in this one!) 
2 heaped teaspoons garam masala
1 heaped teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon turmeric (haldi) 

Two or three large ripe tomatoes
Two or three finger chillies, whole
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves

Stage one:
Preheat oven to 130deg 
Use a large flameproof casserole like a Le Creuset. Onto a medium flame and add the oil and the dry spices: cinnamon stick, bay leaves, peppercorns, cardomums, cloves and whole cumin seeds. Let these heat up in the oil and when they start to pop and spatter add the diced onions. Stir these into the oil and let them cook for a couple of minutes. You don't want them to brown, so adjust heat down if necessary. Add the ginger and garlic and keep cooking and stirring over a medium heat for at least another five to eight minutes. Don't let this mixture brown!!!!! 

Stage two:
The onions will shrivel and the mixture will "split", with oil bubbling up through the spices. Now add the tomato puree and the turmeric powder, stirring this into the mixture. It'll form a lovely glossy red/golden thick paste. Add the salt and the chopped green chillies and then add the tinned tomatoes/passata a tablespoon or so at a time and keep stirring. As you do so the onion spice mixture will absorb the moisture from the tomatoes and form a smooth thick paste. Once you've put in all the tomatoes add the powdered fenugreek (methi) leaves and let this simmer on a low-medium heat. 

Stage three:
In the meantime brown the chunks of meat in a hot wok or skillet. Get it searingly hot and add only a tiny bit of oil. You're looking to sear the outside of the chunks so only do a few at a time. Put them to one side. 

Stage four:
Back to your spice mixture. By now the oil should be bubbling back up through the paste. It's this "splitting" that shows the mixture is ready for the next stage. Stir in the powdered coriander, chilli powder and the garam masala, adding a drop of water if necessary to stop it sticking to the pan. 

Stage five:
Stir and cook for a minute or so then turn the heat up to high and add the meat. Stir the meat into the spice paste, letting it coat all the surfaces then add enough water to cover the meat. As you do this the spice mixture will absorb all the water and form a thick sauce. Bring this to the boil, stirring to keep it from sticking, before putting the lid on the casserole and put it in the oven. 

Stage six:
Cook for at least two and a half to three hours. Check it occasionally to make sure it hasn't dried out, adding a drop more water if it has. It needs a long low heat to get all the flavour out of the bones and break down the connective tissues and sinews in the cheap cuts. Once again, the oil will all separate and rise to the top of the mixture. Check to see whether the meat is tender- it should be "falling off the bone" 

Stage seven:
Skim the excess oil from the top of the curry if you wish. Taste the curry and add extra garam masala powder to taste. Then add the large ripe tomatoes cut into quarters, a good handful of chopped fresh coriander and the extra green chillies to garnish. Back into the oven for another ten minutes. 

Finally, serve with more chopped coriander leaves. 

We tend to put this in the middle of the table on a large server and eat it with naan or better still big thick roti (chappatis) 


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9 hours ago, ColinBR said:

Yup you’ve now put me in the mood for a curry. 

Not so sure I’ll have time for all that, though it does sound lovely. 

You can adapt the curry sauce to make a good chicken curry in about an hour. Follow the recipe until stage four, making the wet spice paste. Then in stage five add all the spices but only a teaspoon of garam masala, and a spoonful of powdered cumin. 


Now add chicken breast meat, cut into 1 1/2" chunks. Stir this into the paste on a high heat until it colours through, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered but stirring frequently. It'll be quite dry, so add only a drop of water occasionally to stop it catching. Cook for about fifteen to twenty minutes or until the chicken is tender, and again the oil separates. 

Now add the quartered tomatoes, some chopped coriander and fresh green chillies, and cook for a few more minutes. Finish with a couple of spoons of cream, or whole yoghurt. Don't use low fat yoghurt, it splits and curd!es. Finally sprinkle garam masala over it and serve. 

You could also used diced leg of lamb, but this adds another half an hour to the cooking time.


Experiment with the spice combinations: leave out the cumin seeds from stage one and add powdered jeera in stage five.  Double the amount of methi leaves and  add extra yoghurt at the finish. Add water instead of yoghurt in the final stage and reduce it down to a thick curry sauce. The combinations are endless!


Alternatively, if you like a curry with loads of sauce, add water 

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