Winter pork or vension stew

This is a warming winter stew filled with all that is good in life: pancetta, pork shoulder, (wild) mushrooms, chestnuts, fingerling potatoes, a little Marsala, a little chopped fennel.

You can make this using pork shoulder bought Gypsy Pig (week2) or with shoulder Gracefield venison.

This has great "yum" factor,

You‘ll want some crusty bread to go with it, as you will find yourself wanting to soak up the juices when you‘ve finished.

Serves 6-8

1kg pork or wild boar shoulder, or venison stew meat
500g shelled, peeled chestnuts
500g fingerling potatoes
250 g assorted mushrooms
1 chopped onion
150g pancetta or bacon
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 litre pork, vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons thyme
1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds
3 chopped green onions
Juice of a lemon


1.Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat until its hot, then turn the heat to low and fry the pancetta or bacon slowly. Remove when crispy.
2.Turn the heat back up to medium-high and brown the pork or venison well on all sides. Take your time and do this in batches. Do not crowd the pot. Remove when browned and set aside. Remember to keep those crunchy brown bits.
3.Add the onion and cook until it begins to brown. Add back the pork or venison and add the mushrooms, thyme, bay leaves, some salt and the Marsala wine.
4.Bring this to a rolling boil and cook the wine down by half. Add the stock just to cover the meat and mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let this simmer for 45 minutes for pork, up to 2 hours for venison; you want the meat to be almost tender.
5.Add the potatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes.
6.Add the chestnuts and simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Test for salt and add if needed.
7.When everything is tender, add the thyme, chopped fennel and green onions and serve at once. Top with the crumbled bacon or the pancetta, and serve with a rich white wine (if using pork), or a fruity red.