Dining in, the Covered Market way

Student Life

I am not a man of extravagant tastes. I like my Hassan’s with ketchup and my wine with a screw-top lid. However, every now and then it’s nice to put a little extra effort into your cooking, and sometimes that consists of more than putting butter on your toast before you pour the beans on. Perhaps you have a special someone you want to impress, or you just want to celebrate the end of the week (and, as students, we’re well aware every night is a Saturday night). Well, Oxford’s fantastic Covered Market is there for you when the occasion calls for it.

The Market’s 59 stalls include a wide selection of high quality foods, from which I decided it would be fun to procure everything needed for such a dish. A venison casserole was the result, and all fruit and veg was from the Bonners Fruit and Veg while the venison came from just across the way, M. Feller & Son & Daughter. Both stalls were helpful and knowledgeable, and the butcher sliced the cut just for me. Here’s what I did:

My first task was to blanch ten tomatoes (having learnt what ‘blanch’ means) but a smarter option is just using canned ones to save the hassle. Fry a sliced onion and two cloves of garlic together in a large frying pan, then add 400g venison after 5 minutes or so and stir until it’s been browned evenly all over. Throw in the tomatoes, 200g sliced mushrooms and seasoning (thyme tarragon, sage, salt, and pepper)and mix it all together before covering with a lid. Leave it for at least 30-40 minutes to allow the meat to tender, and make the mash in the meantime.

After peeling and chopping, boil 6 medium potatoes until they’re soft (about 20 minutes) and then drain. Add a knob of butter, a few dashes of milk, and a few turns each of salt and pepper, then mash roughly. A wooden spoon works fine for this. When the meat has been simmering for long enough (or you’re just getting too hungry), open up the lid and hopefully the contents will look ready to serve!

This may seem a lot to spend on a home-cooked meal, but it tasted fantastic and when shared between two hungry people it’s only really the price of an Itsu for each of you. Using canned tomatoes would bring £3 off the bill, and substituting beef for venison would reduce it by the same again to just £6.85 to feed 2-3. Even better, there’s no corkage charge at home so throw in some wine (and maybe even candles) for a special night.

So that’s all there is to it, and it only took about 90 minutes from start to finish. Maybe you think you’d undermine any future request for financial support from your family if you admitted you’d been cooking venison, in which case go and see what else the Covered Market has in store for you!

Cost

Venison: £6

Fruit and Veg: £6.85

Total: £12.85 (£6.85 with substitutions)

PHOTO/Joshua Meikle

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