I’m violating my own idea of a gratin here. Mine is of a shallow vegetable dish with a light topping of breadcrumbs, fine breadcrumbs. Maybe cheese in the topping or sauce. Still, this venison gratin, as I’m calling it, is shallow, made in a cast iron skillet. The crumb topping, however, is rougher, more rustic, almost like those leftover stuffing toppings you make after the holidays. I think I could have kept the food processor going longer for a finer crumb, but I guess I was in a rustic mood. So, like I said in the title, do you have any leftover garlic bread? With the flavors of your garlic bread already in place—garlic, olive oil or butter, herbs, and maybe some Parmesan—you have the makings of a flavorful topping for a gratin.
Preheat oven to 350º; if using a separate casserole dish, butter the dish. A large (12″) cast iron skillet works great because you can cook the filling in it and then pop it in the oven with the crumb topping on.
- 1 lb venison cut in 1/2″ cubes
- 1 medium onion cut in small dice
- 1-2 cups mushrooms (I used cremini) cut in small dice (so your picky eaters won’t pick them out)
- 2 large carrots cut in 1/2″ dice
- olive oil for browning meat and vegetables
- 2 cups broth (I used beef)
- beurre manié of 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons flour
- leftover garlic bread, pulsed in food processor
- olive oil or melted butter to moisten crumbs
Basically, I prepared a little stew, then topped it with the crumbs and browned it in the oven.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons oil to a hot skillet and brown the venison over medium-high heat. Remove to a platter.
- Add onions and mushrooms to the hot skillet and continue to cook until lightly browned.
- Return venison to the skillet with the carrots. Add the broth. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes.
- Over medium heat, stir in the beurre manié until distributed. Continue to stir until the broth is thickened. Remove from the heat.
- Moisten your garlic bread crumbs with olive oil or butter, just enough to lightly moisten without becoming oily.
- Sprinkle the crumbs over the top all the way to the edge.
- Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.