Autumn fruits combined with slow-cooked meat is a tried and tested pairing that can be found across the world. Some obvious examples are lamb with redcurrant jelly, pork and apple sauce, bacon and maple syrup. If you head to the middle east, tagines and curries often have dried apricots, quince, sultanas or other fruity combinations, and mango chutney is an Indian staple alongside a hot curry.  Even a classic English stew can be perked up with orange zest.  Another allternative is chocolate, which is used in South American dishes.  The chocolate adds a rich sweetness that brings the best out of the meat.

Wild Venison Stew with Chilli and Chocolate – Serves 6


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ½kg diced shoulder of venison (you can use beef)
  • 3 large carrots , roughly chopped
  • 1 onion , roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • large pinch of chilli powder
  • small cinnamon stick
  • 1 red chilli , whole
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml red wine
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 400g can chopped tomato
  • large thyme sprig
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g dark chocolate (Montezuma’s Absolute Black or choc with more than 70% cocoa solids)


  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Over medium high hob, heat the oil in a large casserole dish and brown the meat in small batches. Remove the meat, then add the vegetables in the dish and brown lightly, then add the meat back in, stir in the spices, chilli and flour, and cook for a few mins. Pour in the wine, stock and tomatoes, then add the herbs. Bring to a simmer.
  • Cover with a lid and put in the oven for 1 hr 30 mins, then remove the lid and cook for a further 1 hr until the meat is really tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly, then stir in the chocolate and serve.
  • Any leftovers can be made into shepherds pie.

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