Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gift stew

My post regularity is crap these days for reasons I won't go into now except to say that blogging has felt like a bridge too far for some months, neigh years, as is apparent by the slow down in posts. What might bring me out of quasi-retirement besides images of some of my favorite bathrooms? Venison stew(!) and my desire to record this recipe before it vanishes in a puff of smoke.

OMF received some gift venison a couple months ago after a friend went hunting in Idaho. It's been sitting in my freezer ever since with me feeling a little too intimidated to do anything with it, until today. Over the past few months I've been honing my stew skills usually with chicken, and occasionally beef or pork. Everyone I asked about how to cook this two pound gift said the same thing... it's hard to cook because it's soooo gamey. Thanks, very helpful. This "advice" was a real damper in wanting to approach the stuff. 

Fortunately, I got over it and in a fit of divine inspiration I whipped up the following. It was beyond amazing, tasting a lot like beef only richer in flavor with a hint of the gaminess present in lamb. This evening left me patting myself on the back both for conquering venison and pulling off an excellent stew. 

Venison Stew

2 lbs venison cubed (word on the street is that it can be found at whole foods if you don't know a hunter)
1 lb small yukon gold or red potatoes halved
2 carrots cut in big chunks
1 10oz bag of pearl onions peeled and left whole
1 1/2 cups earthy mushrooms chopped (oysters, maitake, wood ear, crimini, the funkier the better)
2 stalks of celery cut in large chunks + the leafy tops chopped fine and set aside separately
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2/3 cup flour
3 tbl olive oil 
4 cups beef or veal stock
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 healthy dash of worcestershire sauce
1 healthy dash of cinnamon 
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 handful of parsley chopped
Pepper to taste

Place the potatoes, carrots, chunked celery, thyme, rosemary, and  bay leaves in a crockpot and set to low heat. Dredge the venison in the flour, dust it with the cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and brown it on all sides in two tablespoons of the olive oil on medium high heat. Once the venison is nicely browned add it to the crockpot. Reserve the leftover flour from the dredging for a later step. 

In the same pan the venison was browned in add one more tablespoon of oil and the onions cooking about three minutes until the onions began to brown. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and celery tops, and cook until the mushrooms begin to soften. Once the mushrooms begin to cook down scatter 1/4 cup of the remaining flour over the mix cooking until the flour begins to brown slightly. Add the dijon mustard, worcestershire, and tarragon and stir until the mustard coats the ingredients in the pan. Once this is done begin adding the wine in small amounts stirring as you go to avoid lumps. Once the roux is evenly combined add it to the crockpot along with the stock and remaining salt. Give the whole combo a solid stir, add the chopped parsley reserving some for garnish and put the lid on. 7 hours later you'll have the best stew you ever tasted!!