The weather today has been filthy - cold and blustery and rainy - so a casserole of the shanks was most definitely in order. I've been hankering for osso bucco, but my husband isn't a fan, so I figured I would apply the best part of osso bucco, the gremolata, to my shanks. In addition, at the Market I'd tried a balsamic syrup flavoured with orange, and my friend Kim had pointed out how lovely it would be with venison. So I decided that some of the marmalade backlog would go into the sauce and that the gremolata would be orange zest, not lemon. So here we have it:
Braised venison shanks with gremolata
2 venison shanks
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
selection of winter veg (I used an M&S concoction of more onion, carrot, cabbage, swede, leek, potato and lentils)
½ bottle red wine
500ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
5 juniper berries, crushed
2 tsp bitter orange marmalade
salt & pepper
For the gremolata
2 more garlic cloves
bunch flat-leaf parsley
grated rind of a large orange
Brown the venison shanks in the oil on all sides in a heavy, lidded casserole or saucepan (I used a le Creuset dutch oven), with the whole cloves of garlic. Add the onion, diced, and stir around until the onion begins to soften. Add the cubed veg, wine, stock, bay leaf and juniper berries and bring to the boil. Put the lid on and turn the heat down to a simmer. If your pot fits in the oven (mine doesn’t), you can put it in a 150C oven. Cook gently for about 3 – 31/2 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.
Combine the extra garlic cloves, the finely chopped parsley and the grated orange rind.
Remove the shanks from the pot, put in a bowl and pour a couple of spoons of the cooking broth over, and put in a low oven to keep warm. Increase the heat under the pot, so that the sauce reduces. Add the marmalade and half the gremolata and season to taste. Cook for another couple of minutes to soften the parsley. There should still be a bit of liquid around the vegetables but not too much.
Divide the sauce between deep serving plates and top with a shank each. Sprinkle with the remaining gremolata and serve with a simple green vegetable.