Venison shank and barley soup

This is a rich, winter venison dish adapted from a recipe on the RealTree website.  A perfect use for venison shanks!
1.    Start by pouring a tablespoon or two of oil into the bottom of your casserole pot on a medium-high hob. While the oil heats, season the shanks well with salt and pepper.
2.    Brown the shanks, a small batch at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan, on all sides. Add additional oil to the pan between batches if needed. Once each batch has browned, move it to a platter and start the next.
3.    After you have browned all of the venison, add the vegetables to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and stir till the vegetables begin to soften and brown along the edges, about 10 minutes.
4.    Add the shanks back to the pot and pour over the beef stock. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover tightly, and place the pot into a 150oC oven for three to four hours.
5.    With 30 minutes of cooking time to go, heat 4.5 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the barley and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
6.    Once the shanks have finished braising, remove the dish from the oven and take the shanks out to cool. The meat should pull from the bone easily by this point. Return all of the meat to the pot and resume the heat on the hob. Add the cooked barley. Pour in enough water for a thick soup/stew consistency. Add the Worcestershire sauce and check for seasoning then add more salt and pepper if needed.
7.    Simmer the soup for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the thyme and bay leaves before serving.
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Serving tips

Serve with fresh, crusty bread

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