The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Venison Stew With Garden Vegetables

August 27th, 2009 · No Comments · Posted in dinner, garden, Recipes

Any excuse to use vegetables from the garden

Any excuse to use vegetables from the garden

It had been a long time since I’d opened our long-term storage freezer. When I thought to check it the other day I found a bag of venison stew meat as well as a length of venison sausage from our departed friend Happy. We’d been trading some of our produce for some of the venison culled from his family’s farm in Virginia. This was supposed to be the year we set aside several tomato plants for him. But then he contracted liver cancer and died at the local veteran’s hospital.

Seeing that venison in the freezer reminded us of Happy all over again. There was nothing to do but cook the meat, so I am recommending this simple stew using vegetables we’ve harvested from the garden. The big payoff in the end is the sauce–a delicious amalgam of red wine, chicken broth and juniper berries thickened with a generous helping of sour cream–and of course the satisfaction of knowing that you grew the vegetables yourself and traded for the venison.

I didn’t keep track of quantities for this. But I think you will need approximately 1 1/2 pounds venison stew meat marinated with 1 cup red wine, a small fistfull of fresh thyme sprigs, a dozen juniper berries and two bay leaves. Pour it all into a freezer bag and let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or two, giving the bag a squeeze now and then to distribute the wine.

Remove the meat from the bag but reserve the marinade. Pat the meat as dry as you can with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a heavy pot or Dutch oven over high heat, melt 3 tablespoon bacon grease (or use olive oil). In batches, brown the meat thoroughly, then drain and set aside.

I used cipolini onions, about 10 of them, in this dish. So at this point I used the leftover bacon grease to brown them as well. First, to remove the skins from the onions, plunge them into boiling water for 20 seconds, then move to a bowl of cold water. The skins should slip off fairly easily with a paring knife. Brown them in the hot bacon grease and set aside.

For the vegetables in this stew I used some of our own carrots and canned tomatoes. But you could add some of your recently harvested boiling potatoes. The point is to use what you have on hand and what suits your own tastes. Perhaps you don’t have cipolinis, but you harvested some other onions that you like. What I would do is cook the meat for a while before adding the vegetables so that they don’t become two soft.

Venison is very lean and tends to dry out if cooked too long. Drain any excess bacon grease (or olive oil) from your pot, then add the browned meat as well as the reserved marinade and a scant 2 cups chicken broth, or not quite enough to cover the meat entirely. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to the lowest setting, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add your other vegetables, including the browned ciopollinis, if using. You might want to wait even a bit longer before adding your potatoes–you be the judge.

Continue cooking until the vegetables are fork tender. Strain the meat and vegetables into a serving bowl and hold warm in the oven while you finish the sauce. First, you’ll want to remove any stray thyme stems and bay leaves. If it looks like you have too much sauce, raise the heat and let it boil until it has reduced by half. Now stir in up to a cup of sour cream; it’s really a matter of taste. I happen to be a sour cream lover, so there can hardly be too much of it.

Correct the seasonings with salt and pepper as needed. Pour the sauce over your stew. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with your favorite red wine.

Happy would be proud.

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